Rheumatology research is aimed an unravelling the cause of some of the most challenging, chronic diseases of childhood. Improving outcomes for children with arthritis, mainly affecting the joints, and other musculoskeletal conditions that can affect the joints, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments, is crucial, as these chronic, painful conditions can have significant effects on a child’s quality of life and future health. Many of these conditions are autoimmune, and complex, and a better understanding of the genetics and immunology behind the development of these diseases in children is needed to improve the available treatments.

At Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, the team, led by Dr Orla Killeen, have created a collaborative research group to explore the causes of these conditions of childhood. Improving the outcomes of these children will have huge impact on their full life-course, as many of these conditions are life-long. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and the arthropathies of Down Syndrome, are areas of particular focus. With Innovation funding, this group have also begun research on Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis, an auto-inflammatory disease of childhood causing inflammation in the bones, leading to localised pain, swelling, and difficulty using the affected parts of the body. Their aim is to personalise treatment to suit individual patients and control the disease more effectively.

A key aim of the research is to improve the quality of life of patients with these chronic diseases of childhood, with less disturbance to schooling, physical activities, and social interactions. It will also reduce healthcare costs associated with hospital admissions.