Team awarded £14,000 for PCD research

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A Southampton team has been awarded the Team Research Award for research into nutrition in children with primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), a rare inherited condition that affects the lungs.

Winning the award

Southampton has achieved success in competing for the newly established Health Education England (HEE) Wessex Team Research Awards, with the PCD teams awarded prize money to further their research.

The Team Research Awards were introduced for the first time in 2016 by HEE Wessex to enable small teams of healthcare professionals to collaborate on an applied clinical research project. In addition to receiving £14,000 in prize money, the PCD team will attend fully funded launch and closing events.  

Combining our expertise

The new collaborative PCD research project will involve staff from both NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit and NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, combining the expertise of Professor Philip Calder’s nutrition team with Professor Jane Lucas’ PCD group.

PCD is a rare genetic condition which renders ineffective the tiny hair-like structures lining the airways of our lungs called cilia. Patients with PCD are born unable to clear mucus from their lungs, leaving them with a persistent cough and frequent sinus, ear and chest infections from an early age.

Following previous research in patients with cystic fibrosis, where an association between a low body mass index (BMI) and reduced worsening lung function has been demonstrated, the team is keen to investigate the importance of nutrition for children with PCD.

Improving children’s lives

The team will be led by Dr Woolf Walker, consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine and lead for the National Children’s PCD Management Service in Southampton, and Dr Luise Marino, paediatric lead for dietetics/SLT, along with PCD clinical nurse specialists Amanda Harris and Amanda Friend.

“Having the opportunity to answer a clinical question through academic enquiry is so important, as it shapes our clinical practice,” says Luise, “enabling us to improve patient care and the quality of life of the children and the families we see, which at the end of the day is the most important thing.”

Children with PCD who take part in the project will undergo a detailed nutritional assessment, the results of which will be use to inform a personalised nutritional intervention for each patient. The aim is then to assess whether this is beneficial in a subsequent study.

“The aim of this work is to develop nutrition strategies with the aim of integrating nutrition support into the management of children with PCD, as we feel that it is likely to help improve their outcomes and quality of life,” comments Woolf. “If the data ends up showing that it’s helpful to integrate nutritional support in children with PCD, then we plan to roll this out to all children with PCD in England.”

The hope is that, if successful, this study could lead to nutritional schemes for children with other chronic diseases.  

Posted on Wednesday 20 July 2016