FUNDING ANNOUNCED FOR STUDY INTO CHILDREN’S INFLAMMATORY CONDITION CAUSED BY COVID-19

18 Dec 2020, 10:52 a.m.

Clinicians and researchers from hospitals and universities across London will begin a study into the long-term neurological and psychological impact of a serious hyper-inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19 in children. This is thanks to a grant of £282,000 from Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity), Guys & St Thomas’ Charity and Imperial Health Charity.

While it is rare for children to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms, a small number who are infected with the virus develop a condition called paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS). In some cases, this syndrome can be life-threatening, and these children require intensive care in hospital.

Guys & St Thomas’ Charity, Imperial Health Charity and GOSH Charity are collaborating in a first-of-its-kind funding partnership that will help researchers from UCL, Imperial and King’s College London, and clinicians from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), St Mary’s Hospital and Evelina London Children’s Hospital gather crucial information about the progression of PIMS-TS and its long-term impact on children. The London-wide team will use detailed imaging to measure the effects of brain inflammation on brain growth and cognitive development, alongside monitoring muscle weakness.

Around 150 children have been treated for PIMS-TS by clinical teams at GOSH, Evelina and St Mary’s and a further 300 children around the UK are thought to have been affected by the condition. Doctors have reported that many children develop symptoms including headaches, confusion and muscle weakness.

Researchers began recruiting patients for the study earlier in the Autumn and plan to carry out a series of examinations, scans and tests over the next 12 months. The researchers’ findings could help inform the treatments provided to children when PIMS-TS is diagnosed, and in the months that follow and it is hoped that the collaboration would allow for further research on the multisystem impact of this condition.

Dr Karyn Moshal, Infectious Diseases Consultant and Clinical Lead for the PIMS-TS Follow-up Service at Great Ormond Street Hospital says: “It’s important to reassure parents that of the children who have COVID-19, very few will become seriously unwell. But in cases where PIMS-TS - which is a rare post-infectious immunological reaction to COVID-19 - does develop, it can be serious, with some children requiring intensive care treatment in hospital. Research that helps us learn more about how this disease affects children from when they are diagnosed and in the months that follow is absolutely critical when it comes to offering the most effective treatment to our patients.”

Commenting on the study itself, Chief Investigator Dr Yael Hacohen, said: “We’ll collect different types of information and clinical data from the children involved, over a period of 12 months. It’s very important to everyone working on the study that the children and their families are as comfortable as possible, and we are really grateful to everyone who will be taking part. We hope our findings will provide a clearer understanding of how PIMS-TS progresses in children with a focus on the neurological impact, whether this is fixed from the moment it develops or whether it continues to evolve over a number of months. This is important as with any paediatric-onset disease, the full impact may not be immediately detected and may become more apparent as children continue to grow.”

Dr Ming Lim, Paediatric Neurology Consultant at Evelina London Children’s Hospital and Research Study Co-Applicant on behalf of King’s College London added: “We look forward to beginning work on this important study, and continuing the collaborative approach across universities and hospitals that was fostered at the outbreak of the pandemic. We are grateful to our respective charity funders for their support.”

Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, said: “On behalf of all three charities, we’re extremely proud to be supporting this collaborative effort by researchers and clinical teams across London to learn more about this rare condition and how it affects children. “With fantastic support from our generous donors, we hope this important research will help us take the vital first steps towards managing the condition and providing better treatments for seriously ill children.”

-ENDS-

Contact Information

For more information please contact:

Melissa Shelley, GOSH Charity press office
Melissa.shelley@gosh.org / 0203 841 3185

Notes to Editors

The grant total is £282,725, split equally between Imperial Health Charity, GOSH Charity and, Guys & St Thomas Charity. GOSH Charity will lead the grant management.
About Great Ormond Street Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity:
Great Ormond Street Hospital is one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals with the broadest range of dedicated, children’s healthcare specialists under one roof in the UK. The hospital’s pioneering research and treatment gives hope to children from across the UK with the rarest, most complex and often life-threatening conditions. Our patients and families are central to everything we do – from the moment they come through the door and for as long as they need us.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity needs to raise money to support the hospital to give seriously ill children, the best chance for life. The charity funds research into pioneering new treatments for children, provides the most up to date medical equipment, funds support services for children and their families and supports the essential rebuilding and refurbishment of the hospital. You can help us to provide world class care for our patients and families. For more information visit www.gosh.org
 
About Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity the charity for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust including Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Evelina London Children’s hospitals. We help our hospitals and community sites to provide exceptional healthcare, through supporting a world-class environment for patients and staff alike.
As the Trust charity, we:
  • raise funds to support the work across Guy's and St Thomas', working with staff, volunteers, patients and their families, local businesses and philanthropists, and the wider community.
  • assign around £3 million a year from donations towards improving patient and staff experience, through our Special Purpose Funds.
  • use our fine arts and heritage collection, one of the largest belonging to a health charity, to help transform healthcare settings by creating a more calming, positive and uplifting environment.
 
About Imperial Health Charity
Imperial Health Charity is the dedicated charity for the five London hospitals of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust – Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and the Western Eye. The charity funds major refurbishments to hospital buildings, pioneering research and medical equipment as well as helping the most vulnerable patients at times of extreme financial difficulty.
The charity’s work is focused on improving patient experience, enhancing the wellbeing of hospital staff and enabling cutting-edge innovation in healthcare – vital support above and beyond what the NHS can provide on its own. For more information visit www.imperialcharity.org.uk