A dedicated Clinical Research Facility (CRF) has opened at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool, UK, offering experimental-medicine and early-phase studies in complex childhood conditions such as Hirschsprung’s disease, rheumatic disorders, cancer, diabetes, respiratory disorders and infectious diseases.

The facility is the first of its kind in the Merseyside and Cheshire region, Alder Hey pointed out. It reflects a “dramatic increase” in the volume of studies conducted in children following the implementation of the European Union’s regulation on medicinal products for paediatric use in January 2007.

Alder Hey and the University of Liverpool subsequently recognised the need for a facility focused exclusively on paediatric research in 2009.

The hospital chipped in with a “major” capital investment, supplemented by funding for leading-edge equipment from the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal and a £2 million grant from the National Institute for Health Research in March 2012 to cover running costs and staffing for the facility until 2017.

Integrated research strategy

The new resources will .enable Alder Hey to deliver “safe, high-intensity studies of complex new medications and interventions, including those requiring inpatient, overnight care”, the hospital said.

Dr Matthew Peak, director of Research at Alder Hey, noted that the hospital recently published a 10-year Integrated Research Strategy with its university partners. Setting up a bespoke, state-of-the-art, paediatric Clinical Research Facility “is at the heart of our collaborative efforts”, he commented.  

The Alder Hey Trust is already the hub of an extended research network across Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales, as well as playing a leading role in the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

The Medicines for Children Research Network Coordinating Centre, which co-ordinates all paediatric clinical research in England, is also based at the Trust.  

“Alder Hey has a long and really impressive record in undertaking a wide variety of research, in particular both commercial and non-commercial clinical trials in children and young people,” said medical director Ian Lewis.