The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children in London is celebrating its third anniversary and another year of breakthrough research, with hundreds of clinicians and researchers working together to help seriously ill children from around the world.
Since opening in 2019, the Zayed Centre for Research has welcomed almost 50,000 patients a year, seeing up to 200 patients daily from more than 30 countries in its Falcon outpatients unit.
As well as providing life-changing treatment for seriously ill children, the Centre has once again demonstrated how its state-of-the-art facilities are supporting complex, global health challenges over the past year.
For instance, in April, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) called on world-leading genomics experts to help identify which virus was driving an unusual rise in childhood hepatitis cases. The government body approached an existing collaboration – led by Professor Judy Breuer, Professor of Virology and Consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) - of UCL scientists from the Zayed Centre for Research and clinical scientists at GOSH, recognising their expertise as one of just a handful of teams in the world that could provide highly-specialised, clinically-guided metagenomics answers, bolstered by the cutting-edge equipment and expertise housed in the Centre.
By July, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported more than 1,000 children across 35 countries had been affected, and the Zayed Centre for Research and GOSH-based teams were able to report that co-infection with two viruses may have caused the onset of severe liver disease in affected children. A separate study in Scotland corroborated the UCL/GOSH results. The findings provide the world-first example of adeno-associated viruses (AAV) being implicated in disease.
In February, as part of UK Pavilion events at Expo 2020, Professor Claire Booth, Mahboubian Professor in Gene Therapy at UCL Great Ormond Institute of Child Health (UCL GOS ICH) and Consultant in Paediatric Immunology, GOSH, led a virtual seminar on her research in gene therapy. The seminar highlighted how modified harmless viruses can be used to treat patients with severe immune system diseases.
The Zayed Centre for Research’s third anniversary also coincides with the release of its first annual report. In addition to last year’s highlights, the annual report for 2021 includes deep insights into the work of some of the 33 independent research groups currently based in the building, such as research into the use of innovative CAR T-cell therapy for childhood cancers.
Professor Maha Barakat, Director General of the Frontline Heroes Office, stated: “The global research contributions generated by the Zayed Centre for Research over just three short years is a testament to the scientists and clinicians who have dedicated themselves to saving young lives, as well as, the cutting-edge facilities that make their work possible.”
Louise Parkes, Chief Executive at GOSH Charity, said: “The Zayed Centre for Research is a powerful example of how proximity of researchers, clinicians and patients can propel research and collaboration to help the lives of seriously ill children around the world. As the Centre turns three, we’re extremely proud of all its accomplishments and very grateful to the donors who have helped to make them a reality.”
The Zayed Centre for Research is a partnership between GOSH, University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity), and was made possible thanks to a generous £60 million gift in 2014 from HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation.