Study findings on treatment for paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS) published

Friday 9 February 2024

A study carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic involving 51 UK hospitals, including Evelina London Children's Hospital, has published its findings into treatment for paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PIMS) associated with COVID-19.

PIMS, also known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), causes inflammation throughout the body weeks after a child has had the virus that causes COVID-19. It can result in fever, pain, vomiting, headache, fatigue, or inflammation of the heart and other organs, in the worst cases.

Evelina London was among the first hospitals in the world to report PIMS as a new condition in April 2020.

The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial has identified treatments that can reduce the length of hospital stays for children aged under 18 with the condition. Evelina London experts in the RECOVERY study team were able to use their early experiences of treating the condition to help shape the research. Evelina London patients with PIMS were also recruited to take part in the study.

Similarities between PIMS and other conditions such as toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease initially led clinicians to use an antibody treatment called immunoglobulin that can improve the immune system's ability to fight disease.

The RECOVERY trial aimed to assess whether immunoglobulin or methylprednisolone, a type of corticosteroid known to help reduce inflammation, had any effect on how long children with PIMS following COVID-19 needed to stay in hospital when compared with usual care.

The study reports that treatment with the drug methylprednisolone in the first instance and tocilizumab when inflammation is persistent can be beneficial in reducing inflammation and the length of hospital stays.

Dr Mandy Wan

Dr Mandy Wan, lead paediatric research pharmacist at Evelina London Children's Hospital and one of the study authors, said:

This important study demonstrates the power of organisations coming together and working collaboratively to identify the best ways to treat a newly-identified condition. I'm proud to have been involved in the study team as a research pharmacist during the pandemic. As a leading paediatric research hospital, we were able to quickly bring together nursing, medical and pharmacy teams to enrol children with the condition into the study across our intensive care and general ward settings.

"While Evelina London is one of a large number of organisations involved in the study across the UK, we'd like to thank all of the children, parents and guardians, and staff who took part here or in other hospitals. Not only have you helped enable the discovery of two treatments that may benefit future patients, but you've also shown the importance of recruiting children into trials during a pandemic to generate reliable evidence for effective treatments."

You can read more about the study findings on the RECOVERY trial website.

Last updated: February 2024

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