A new network putting children at the centre of decision-making in healthcare was launched today at University College Cork.

Funded by the Health Research Board (HRB), In4Kids, the Irish Network for Children’s Clinical Trials, will support innovative clinical research and trial design for children in Ireland. It is the first clinical trials network in Ireland to focus on children’s health.

Better patient outcomes

Evidence shows that research-active hospitals have better patient care outcomes. In4kids will allow healthcare staff and researchers throughout Ireland to work together through a multidisciplinary network, with access and support for participation in national and international clinical trials with particular emphasis on rare paediatric diseases and high medical need areas.

The network is developing educational and training resources for everyone involved in clinical trials and will soon establish a young persons’ advisory group. The network also aims to ensure that children and their families are involved in clinical research from an early stage and that the research is relevant and accessible to them.

In4kids is the Irish hub in the c4c network, a pioneering European network that aims to facilitate the development of new drugs and other therapies for the entire paediatric population.

Children are not little adults

Paediatric patients have developmental, physiological and psychological differences from adults. Medicines and treatments made for adults therefore cannot simply be applied to children.

Professor Geraldine Boylan, lead for the In4kids network and INFANT Centre Director, UCC, said: “All children must have access to innovative therapies and medicines that have been developed with the same rigour and urgency as those developed for adults. We have a great team of investigators in our network and in4kids will support them to roll out the latest clinical trials for children across Ireland.”

Professor Helen Whelton, Head of College of Medicine and Health, UCC said: “In4kids is working to ensure Ireland produces excellent clinical research and clinical trials to benefit all children. We are launching a paediatric network to ensure that every child is seen and heard and has access to the best possible therapies and interventions. Our children deserve and must have the same access to high quality, evidence-based health care as adults.”

Patient representative, Cameron Keighron, who has been living with Type 1 diabetes for 8 years, said: “I am passionate about including the lived experience of people in all elements of research, particularly the voice of young people. Including young people in research is often overlooked but I truly believe that we have an important voice to contribute to shaping a better world, without us, research will never have the full picture.”

As part of the launch, leading experts addressed the challenges and opportunities for clinical trials in children in Ireland as well as announcing a new collaboration between the Glucksman and In4Kids.

Learn more about In4Kids here.