Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall visited The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology, the world’s first centre dedicated to understanding how and why arthritis affects teenagers.
The centre, which opened in 2012, is a collaboration between Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and is funded by Arthritis Research UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
During the visit, The Duchess of Cornwall met Malaika, a 14 year old GOSH patient who was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in 2011 and is working with the centre to develop a new mobile phone app to help other teenagers with the condition, as part of a range of support and information services being produced for young people.
The Duchess of Cornwall was also shown immune cells in a microscope as part of a project defining how puberty and stress can affect the immune system and MRI scans which show how the progress of arthritis in teenagers is different to that of adults.
There are approximately 15,000 children and young people in the UK living with the pain caused by arthritis. Having arthritis as a teenager makes the physical, psychological and sexual changes teenagers go through more difficult.
Researchers at the centre aim to understand why rheumatic diseases such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) or juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus (JSLE) can be more severe in teenagers and why specific types of arthritis are more likely to occur in this age group. It is hoped that the research will lead to better treatments for teenagers and young people with the condition.
Dr Liam O’Toole, Chief Executive Officer at Arthritis Research UK, said: “Having arthritis at any time in your life is difficult but having arthritis as a teenager is particularly challenging. The daily pain can have a massive impact on a young person’s appearance, social life and education. The research at the centre is focused on improving the health and wellbeing of these young people living with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases
“We were thrilled that we were able to showcase examples of our research at the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology to The Duchess of Cornwall. Her Royal Highness was shown research looking at how puberty and stress can impact a teenager’s immune system, as well as practical technological solutions being developed to help young people better manage their condition.”
Professor Wedderburn, Professor of Rheumatology at the UCL Institute of Child Health and a Consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and Director of the Centre said: “The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology is the world’s first centre dedicated to understanding the very specific needs of young people who are growing up with arthritis. It was wonderful to have the chance to show The Duchess of Cornwall just some of our research which is focused on understanding why and how arthritis is different in adolescence, and what happens as the young people enter adult life. HRH was also able to meet some of our dedicated team who are working every day to dramatically improve treatment and care for young people living with these painful diseases.”
Richard Murley, chairman of UCLH, said: “We are proud to be working with our partners at Arthritis Research UK, UCL and GOSH to lead the work in developing a greater understanding of arthritis and rheumatism in teenagers. It is our great pleasure to have welcomed The Duchess of Cornwall to University College Hospital today to meet some of the young people who are helping us to shape how we support patients in future.”
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Notes to Editors
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust is the country’s leading centre for treating sick children, with the widest range of specialists under one roof.
With the UCL Institute of Child Health, we are the largest centre for paediatric research outside the US and play a key role in training children’s health specialists for the future.
Our charity needs to raise £50 million every year to help rebuild and refurbish Great Ormond Street Hospital, buy vital equipment and fund pioneering research. With your help we provide world class care to our very ill children and their families.