Each year, we identify core programs for US support, so that our American friends and donors can truly visualize the impact of their giving. Of course, we also view our donors as true partners in our mission, and so we invite them to support any Children’s Medical & Research Foundation programs that may fit within their charitable vision. You can learn more about the breadth of these programs by visiting our Irish site.In recent years, we have supported programs like these:
Project: Improving vaccines for children
Because current vaccines for many infections do not work until a child is at least 9 months or older, a child must cross a dangerous “window of vulnerability” that opens when levels of maternal antibodies drop below a protective level, and only closes when the child’s immune system is mature enough to respond effectively to vaccination.
This research into improving vaccines for children can help by figuring out how to boost a child’s immune system so that they can respond to the best of their ability. Working in collaboration with colleagues at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin and the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, the research team are examining the factors that cause the immune system of infants and young children to be compromised when compared to those in adults. Specifically, they want to understand why the rules that govern how the adult immune system responds to adjuvants do not necessarily apply to infants. Vaccines have two key components, one of which is an “adjuvant”. These provide danger signals that instruct the immune system to mount a response to the infection, or vaccine. The adjuvant is critical not only for triggering the immune system into action, but also in directing the type of immune response best suited to fight a particular infection.
Project: Global perspectives on vaccination against Group B Streptococcus in pregnancy.
Group B Streptococcus is a type of bacteria that can be found in the gut, vagina or urinary tract of people of all ages. In most cases, Group B Streptococcus is harmless and will not cause infection, however it can cause serious problems for women and their newborns during pregnancy.
The bacteria is present in the vagina of up to 25% of pregnant women and about half of women who carry this bacteria will pass the bacteria to their babies during delivery. For most babies, this causes no harm but in about 1% of cases the baby can develop very severe infections such as meningitis, blood stream infection or pneumonia. There are about 50 cases of severe Group B Streptococcus infection in babies in Ireland each year.
The researchers are investigating what factors would affect the future uptake of the Group B Streptococcus vaccine. As Sarah Geoghean, the leader researcher explains, “we aim to study the acceptability of this vaccine in the population in advance of its introduction so that public health messaging can be targeted appropriately and well informed from the outset”.