Ammarah, aged seven, has severe atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema - a condition which causes the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked and sore.
But after attending the Clinical Research Facility at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to be part of a trial for skin examinations since she was two, her condition has improved significantly, and this has restored her confidence so much that she now educates her classmates on the condition.
Ammarah, along with her sisters Summayah, eight and Ayaana, 11, are regular visitors to the research facility to be part of a study investigating the effect of the drug dupilumab on the skin barrier function for children aged six to 11 years old, who have moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.
Dupilumab has been approved to use in the UK for patients aged six and older with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis since December 2021.
During the study, Ammarah had monthly injections of dupilumab while the research team at Sheffield Children’s monitored her response to the drug.
Her mum, Safia said: “It has made a huge difference to Ammarah’s symptoms – she has become a much happier child. Since receiving the drug she has been able to sleep in her own bed every night.
“Ammarah was teased at school because of her eczema – her classmates didn’t really understand what it was. Being on the trial has given her the confidence to teach them about eczema.
“She has even stood up in front of the whole class to explain the research she’s taking part in and show an example of her medicine.”
‘I know I’m helping other children with eczema’
Meanwhile, her sisters are volunteers in the PELISTAD trial and their involvement helps researchers because they can compare their skin against the skin of children of the same age, who have the condition and who are receiving the study medicine.
The skin examinations include measuring how well the skin is working as a barrier to water and collecting surface skin samples using sticky-tape discs, which are like Sellotape.
Infrared light, like that found in television remotes, is also used to look at the structure of the skin and the shape of blood vessels.
Ayaana said: “I like taking part in the study because I know I’m helping other children with eczema.”
Safia added: “I can’t thank the staff at Sheffield Children’s enough for what they’ve done for Ammarah. When we started the trial Ammarah had a fear of needles, but they’ve even helped her to overcome that, so she is now happy for me to give her the injections at home.”
Professor Mike Cork, Consultant Dermatologist at Sheffield Children’s said: “When the PELISTAD trial opened, the Dermatology team recognised she (Ammarah) was potentially eligible.
“Clinical trials have precise inclusion and exclusion criteria to ensure the safety of participants and integrity of the trial.”
Stuart Gormley, Lead Nurse for Research and Innovation said: “Ammarah and her sisters have been fantastic throughout the trial and shown a real interest and it has been great to see the change in Ammarah. It will be exciting to see the results of this trial as the equipment and new technology will provide information about the skin beyond what we can see.”