The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Medicines for Children Research Network (MCRN) is part of the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN), and forms part of the UK Clinical Research Network. The Networks provides world-class health service infrastructure to support and deliver high quality clinical research studies of medicines for children.
Following the establishment of the MCRN Coordinating Centre in 2005, six Local Research Networks (LRNs) were appointed across England following open national competetive process. The LRNs have been fully operational since 2006 and provide the essential infrastructure to actively support the delivery of MCRN Portfolio studies and remove barriers to its conduct across their regions. The MCRN LRNs ensure that clinical trials involving children are performed efficiently to the highest standards across NHS sites. They provide assistance to those wanting to conduct studies by improving set-up time and reducing administrative burden. The Networks help with detailed feasibility assessments, assist with site selection and provide support with local financial, ethical and governance arrangements. In addition, LRNs can assist with staff recruitment and training, and facilitate efficient recruitment of participants, monitoring enrolment throughout projects. Details of the LRNs are provided here.
The MCRN has developed a Neonatal Network to promote and support clinical research in neonatology units across the UK. The Neonatal Network Coordinator, based at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU; www.npeu.ox.ac.uk) in Oxford, acts as a central resource for those neonatal units that do not fall within the lrn boundaries. Through the Neonatal Network, units can access advice on regulatory approval submissions and are kept informed of regulatory issues and training opportunities.
Many medicines used by children are not available in age-appropriate formulations. To address this, MCRN has established a network of Formulation Fellows (working closely with CSGs and others in the MCRN) and paediatric pharmacists to provide advice on pharmaceutical aspects of clinical trial design. This includes the provision of advice on formulation development, extemporaneous formulations and the manipulation of 'adult' dosage forms. Details of the MCRN Formulations Work-stream can be found here.