Europe to become focal point of paediatric medicine, led by Irish centre

21 May 2018

Image: Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock

Science Foundation Ireland’s INFANT Centre just received a massive boost worth almost €1m to launch a new network to develop first-of-its-kind paediatric medicine.

Unbeknownst to many, most of the medication we give children is designed and tested on adults only, with the dosage merely reduced or diluted to cater to smaller bodies.

Additionally, the majority of this medication has not been studied in infants, which has led to many in paediatric medicine calling out for greater dedicated research into new drugs to treat a variety of conditions.

Now, Science Foundation Ireland’s Irish Centre for Foetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT) at University College Cork has announced it is to lead a new network called In4Kids to facilitate the development of new drugs for children in Ireland and across Europe.

To help it get started, INFANT has been awarded €800,000 in the first phase of the programme – with expectations to multiply throughout – as part of the pan-European multidisciplinary Collaborative Network for European Clinical Trials For Children (C4C).

Comprising academia, medical institutions, industry and affiliated partners, the C4C network has been awarded €140m by the Innovative Medicines Initiative and the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme to improve clinical trial infrastructure for children and infants.

Accelerate available data

One of the key goals of the INFANT-led project is to support the use of innovative trial designs and new quantitative methods to foster the development of paediatric medicines and to support development in rare paediatric diseases and high medical need areas.

Speaking at the launch of In4Kids, INFANT director and In4Kids lead, Prof Geraldine Boylan, said: “Children must have access to innovative therapies and medicines that have been developed with the same rigour and urgency as those developed for adults.

“The C4C network with its Irish partner, In4Kids, will accelerate the availability of high-quality scientific data that will improve the safe and effective use of medicines in children.”

Earlier this year, INFANT was awarded close to €600,000 to develop a smart brain monitoring system.

Called Delphi, the AI technology is designed to help to detect the severity of brain damage as soon as possible, enabling early intervention and appropriate therapies tailored to each individual baby.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic