Walkergate Park receives global recognition

Posted: 02/10/20

A local NHS Trust has received global recognition for its work on Huntington’s Disease (HD), cementing its position as a leading site for research.

Walkergate Park, part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), has been accredited by the European Huntington’s Disease Network (EHDN) and Cure Huntington’s Disease Initiative (CHDI) USA for the third year running.

One of 20 sites in the UK and the only one in the North East to have this accreditation, the Huntington’s Disease Trial Site Certification serves as global recognition that Walkergate Park is a go-to site for complex research into the disease.

Part of a joint certification programme by the EHDN and CHDI, the certification provides improved visibility of sites who have with patients with HD and an interest and capability to run clinical trials.

Dr Suresh Komati, a consultant neuropsychiatrist at CNTW, said: “We are thrilled to have achieved this accreditation which is a testament to the hard work of our team.

“Huntington’s Disease is an illness caused by a faulty gene in your DNA. It is a devastating, chronically progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that can affect whole families throughout generations. It has a significant impact in various aspects of life causing physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural decline. Unfortunately, there is no cure identified as yet and that’s why this research is so important.”

Walkergate Park was required to meet rigorous assessment standards to qualify for the award. The standards are based on previous site experience with various studies, clinicians’ contribution to HD research on a global level, resource availability and facilities, and previous research monitoring outcomes.

Sarah Edwards, Clinical Studies Officer at CNTW, said: “From initially becoming involved in HD research a relatively short time ago to being contacted to run cutting edge genetic trials is very exciting.

“A lot of hard work has gone into providing research opportunities for patients with HD but we could not do this successfully without the enthusiasm, dedication and proactive participation of our patients.

“Delivering HD research has helped us to build collaborative relationships not only with patients and families, but with various other clinical teams both regionally and globally. Overall, we feel the hard work is recognised and are proud to be able to offer novel treatment options for our patients which would have been otherwise unavailable.”

The accreditation showcases the experience and capability of the Trust’s research team to run complex studies effectively and provides further consolidation that Walkergate Park is currently in the top five recruitment sites for HD research in the UK.

There is a small group of researchers specialising in researching the disease who have coordinated and run several HD drug studies over the past four years. CNTW supports the research activity by providing the required training opportunities, resources and facilities which allows the team to develop and pursue such complex studies.

Walkergate Park is a service for people with a disability caused by injury or disease affecting the brain, spinal cord or muscles. One of the most advanced centres of its kind, it provides high quality rehabilitation services on an inpatient, outpatient, day patient or community basis.

CNTW is a leading provider of mental health and disability services in the North East and north Cumbria.