NEW YORK – The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) BioResource in the UK on Tuesday said it is launching the DNA, Children and Young People's Health Resource (D-CYPHR) to improve understanding of various diseases and advance better treatments.
The NIHR BioResource will collaborate with the National Health Service, the University of Cambridge, and the mental health charity Anna Freud to collect saliva samples for DNA analysis and health and lifestyle data from newborns and children up to 15 years old. They will then correlate the DNA, clinical, and environmental information in the hopes of improving understanding of childhood health and development, helping researchers develop new, more individualized treatments, and advancing better care options for people with a variety of long-term illnesses.
The collaborators have chosen to focus on young people within the D-CYPHR program, recognizing that most biomedical research is conducted on adults despite the fact that many health conditions begin within the first two decades of a person's life.
"We've got a huge gap in our understanding of how diseases develop as children grow up, for both physical and mental health," Anna Moore, a clinical lecturer at the University of Cambridge's department of psychiatry and the D-CYPHR program's clinical lead, said in a statement. "We've carefully designed and piloted the program alongside children, schools, and families over two years. This has been very important as this project will also be a way to address inequality in health research."
The D-CYPHR program casts a wide net, supporting research into any condition originating in childhood. These include mental health conditions, diabetes, heart conditions, rare diseases, and immune conditions, among others.
"By focusing on the DNA of children and young people, we'll be able to track how genetics affect a child's development and build a picture of what might impact on their future health," Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay said in a statement. "As a result, we'll be able to develop more effective, bespoke treatments and even explore potential preventative measures for a wide range of conditions, including mental health issues and heart disease."