A research team have been marking their successes over the last year – including the launch of its first commercial study in many years into a common virus in babies.
Over the last year, the neonatal and paediatric part of the research and development team at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has recruited more than 1,100 participants to studies.
Over a 12-month period they have also opened more studies than in any other year, have over-recruited to all studies, been the best performing site nationally for a sleep impulsivity study for autism and started their first two children’s studies in emergency care.
The team has also appointed several new principal investigators who lead studies and have recruited another paediatric research nurse.
Dawn Egginton, Vicky Collins and Adele McQuillan (pictured) are among members of the service’s paediatric and neonatal research team.
Dawn said: “The team has excelled over the last 12 months.
“We have, once again, made significant contributions in a number of national studies – as well as being the best performing in another.
“All staff across the organisation involved in caring for babies and young people are engaged and are aware of in the importance of research in their roles.
“They understand that by being involved in research studies we are constantly helping improve healthcare both at this organisation and across the health service.”
The team have recently been involved in a European study for RSV, a virus affecting almost all babies before the age of two.
While most of the time it causes a mild illness like a cold, RSV can lead to more severe lung problems such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia and is a leading cause of hospitalisations in babies.
Most hospitalisations due to RSV occur in otherwise healthy babies, and it is difficult to know which babies will develop severe disease needing medical care.
This is normally treated using a drug called Palivizumab, but this requires regular use, is short lasting and expensive and is used on at risk babies only.
The HARMONIE study, being led in the Trust by consultant paediatrician Chidambara Harikumar, is looking at an alternative drug called Nirsevimab in babies under one year of age.
Adele said: “It is a one off immunisation with longer term effects and is cheaper.
“The interim results are available and suggest the drug reduces hospitalisation by 83.2% and severe RSV disease by 75.7%.
“We will follow up the participants for a year and share the findings of the completed study next year.”
Vicky added: “This is very encouraging news and yet again shows the fantastic benefits research brings.
“Research in our trust is constantly improving the treatments we can provide, improving health outcomes and ultimately changing lives for the better.”
Team plans over the next few months include being selected as a research site for five new studies, with expressions of interest in a further two, and encouraging more staff to be involved in research.