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Case study: Mckenzie Carr: Inspiring others to take part

Over 870,000 people took part in research in 2018/19. This research helps improve health and social care provided by the NHS and others. It also helps advance medicine to find new cures and better treatments for future generations.

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Mckenzie's story

Mckenzie Carr is the first participant to sign up to a new research study taking place at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) which looks at how sensitising the body to insulin can impact the effectiveness of growth hormone in short children who are born small.

Nine year old Mckenzie, from Norwich, was considered much smaller than normal when he was born. Weighing just 4 pounds 7 ounces at birth, he had trouble feeding and failed to put on weight at the normal rate for newborns. Parents, Carla-Jane and Kieran Carr, tried everything to get him to feed normally. However, unlike the majority of children who are born small, Mckenzie did not have a catch-up growth.

Mckenzie was just about to begin the standard course of growth hormones for short children who are born small, last year when mum, Carla-Jane, received a call from Julie a research nurse to tell her about the ‘SGA Metformin study’ being led by Professor David Dunger and Dr Ajay Thankamony at CUH. SGA is a term used for children who are Small for Gestational Age.

The family were sent lots of information about the study which they considered and, once Mckenzie had given his approval, they agreed to join it.

Insulin, which the body naturally produces to help regulate blood sugar, has also been shown have an important role in the action of growth hormone. The study involves the participant taking a daily dose of Metformin (a medication which makes the body more sensitive to insulin) or placebo (dummy drug) alongside their growth hormone injection which researchers hope will increase the effectiveness of the Growth Hormone. This takes place for 6 months, then the participant is monitored for another 6 months during which time they take the growth hormone on its own.

Mckenzie said:

I got a leaflet and read it and said yes because I wanted to know more about why I don’t grow.

Dad, Kieran, has pointed out that the family decided to take part to help others as well. He said: “As well as finding out why Mckenzie wasn’t growing, we hope taking part will help other people. It’s been a bit of a nightmare for him over the past 9 years so we hope that with this trial, someone else might be able to be helped in future.”

Professor Jeremy Turner, Consultant Endocrinologist and Clinical Lead for the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network which supports the study, said: “Research is a vital component in finding new treatments and it simply can’t happen without the involvement of patients like Mckenzie. We can’t thank him and all of our study participants enough for not only taking part, but also inspiring others to be part of research.”

To find out more about the SGA Metformin study email jh676@medschl.cam.ac.uk.