27/07/2020 | Press releases

Innovative research centre launches to improve children’s care

Children with lifelong neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism and cerebral palsy will soon benefit from ground-breaking studies carried out closer to home after East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) launched an innovative new research centre.

The Synapse Centre for Neurodevelopment brings together paediatricians, speech and language specialists, clinical psychologists, physiotherapists and researchers from ESNEFT. They will add to the trust’s established research and development program by translating biomedical research into practical therapies. The team will also work alongside local universities and industry leaders to explore new approaches which will benefit young patients and their families.

The centre will focus on areas which affect brain development, such as bacterial imbalances in the gut, the role of the immune system and metabolism. It will also explore new behavioural approaches as well as common co-morbidities linked with neuro-disabling conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems, seizures and sleep disturbance.

Work carried out by the centre will also be influenced by its new parents’ network, which will meet regularly to help identify further themes for research so that staff can ensure that the studies they carry out are driven by local need.

Regular webinars and journal clubs will also be held for junior doctors from the east of England to encourage more to pursue a career in the specialty.

“We are incredibly excited that ESNEFT is leading the way in this important area through the launch of the Synapse Centre,” said Ben Marlow, ESNEFT consultant paediatrician and the centre’s clinical director. “The Synapse Centre will seek to innovate and bring together the NHS, academia and the biotech industry to understand more about the factors which affect brain development in these young patients.

“Neuro-disabling conditions have a significant impact on both children and their families throughout their entire lives. These children suffer from many associated health problems that can significantly impair quality of life and be life-limiting.

“Better understanding these difficulties and intervening early can have a positive impact on a child’s development and significantly reduce the health difficulties they will encounter in the longer-term, which is why this work is so important.

“The centre has already attracted interest from paediatricians and researchers across the UK, Europe and the US. We are really looking forward to working with many of these partners to further improve the care, treatment and outcomes for these young patients.”

For more information about the Synapse Centre for Neurodevelopment, or to get involved and support its work, click here.

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