Unlocking the answers to childhood diseases

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of many things; the need for good hand hygiene, the importance of social distancing when we are unwell, the value of our healthcare workers. It has also highlighted the importance of progress in science, research and healthcare.

The speed and scale of the global spread of COVID-19 has driven government bodies, researchers and clinicians to rapidly develop and launch clinical trials in the race to develop a vaccine. But this is only the latest in a long line of clinical trials already underway to help improve the health outcomes of the community.

Across SCHN alone, there are more than 140 clinical trials looking into better treatment, management and hopefully, cures, for a whole range of rare and incurable childhood conditions. These trials are investigating conditions like cancer, food allergies, brain and muscular disorders, respiratory conditions and diabetes, just to name a few.

Behind each of these trials are a team of dedicated researchers and healthcare workers committed to finding the answers to some of medicine’s unanswered questions as well as groups of patients and families who are willing to try something new to help improve not only their child’s health, but the health of other families like theirs in the future.

It is these people that we celebrate on International Clinical Trials Day.

“This International Clinical Trials Day, we celebrate the commitment and passion of our researcher community and families in their participation in ground-breaking clinical trials to improve the lives of children and young people,” Professor Chris Cowell, Director of Research, said.

“It is our hope that through research and clinical trials, we are able to find answers to childhood diseases and many important clinical questions, leading to better outcomes for patients and health systems across Australia.”

While COVID-19 has posed some challenges for those involved in clinical trials, it has also given SCHN researchers a unique opportunity to lead investigations into the global disease and showcase the immense value research adds to improving the health of the community.

SCHN researchers have been actively working with research groups nationally and internationally to understand the virus; including developing a national Clinical Data Analytics Platform (CDAP) to drive delivery of care and conducting an investigation into the spread of COVID-19 in New South Wales Schools.

 “Our researchers have been busier than ever leading and collaborating in COVID-19 public health and biomarker research, cohort investigations and clinical trials,” Prof Cowell said.

“The pandemic has really highlighted the key role of clinical research and clinical trials in accelerating our understanding of disease mechanisms and interventions to prevent and manage conditions like COVID-19 moving forward.”

International Clinical Trials Day is celebrated every year on May 20th to commemorate the day that James Lind began his famous clinical trial into the causes of scurvy.

Read more about the day on our Kids Research website.