New Report on Research for Children
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has released a report examining the best way to increase research and clinical trials for children. The Council, an independent body that looks at ethical issues in biology and medicine, states that research for children is essential and that only research conducted with children provides the good evidence that can ensure the safety of patients receiving medical treatments. The report explains the processes of how research should be approached, with open dialogue that involves taking part in the research, and we hope can kick-start a wave of research that can save the lives of thousands of children.
In order to provide the best quality treatments for children, regardless of the disease, research needs to take place with their involvement. The bodies of adults and children are different, responding to treatments differently because children are still growing. Researchers are currently reticent to involve children in research, denying the opportunities to develop new treatments and to live healthy lives. Action is desperately needed in the UK as less than 5% of biomedical research funding is directed at children, less than 5% of registered studies involve children and less than 5% of neonatal medications have been evaluated in new-borns. This report sets out an ethical process to involve children in research, stressing that the research is with children not on them and that honest communication with the child and parents should be at the centre of any project.
We welcome this report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and both their analysis of the problem and recommendations for solutions. Children and young people are effected by brain tumours more than almost any other disease, killing more children than any other cancer. We believe that the level of research on brain tumours needs to be incentivised through the Cancer Drugs Fund and through a ring-fenced Innovation Fund, as we have argued in our manifesto Invest in a Cure. We call on the Government to help facilitate research for children and on rare cancers, which would give hope to thousands of families throughout the country.