Queen Mary, University of London’s Institute of Dentistry has been named, in partnership with Barts and the London NHS Trust, as the UK’s largest Centre of Excellence for the treatment of Behçet’s disease - a chronic and rare inflammatory disorder.
The centre status was awarded by NHS Specialised Services Commissioning, following a successful bid led by the Behçet’s Syndrome Society, in conjunction with a clinical team from the Trust and College.
The Centre will be led by Farida Fortune, Professor of Medicine in Relation to Oral Health at Queen Mary and a consultant at Barts and the London NHS Trust. In 2011 Professor Fortune was the recipient of the Behçet’s Syndrome Society award for ‘Services to Patients’.
The London Centre is joined by two other Centres of Excellence at Birmingham City Hospital and Aintree University Hospital, all to be launched in April 2012. The Centres will attract a combined budget of nearly £20m over a five year period for the diagnosis and treatment of Behçet’s disease.
Behçet’s is a chronic disorder caused by disturbances in the body's immune system. It leads to long-term multisystem problems, including ulcers, eye inflammation, strokes and arthritis.
In the past, Behçet’s patients have endured multiple referrals, incorrect diagnosis and inadequate therapies - the Centre for Excellence will allow quicker diagnosis and holistic treatment, with services and expert clinicians in one location.
The team at the Institute of Dentistry at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, part of Queen Mary, and Barts and The London NHS Trust have developed pioneering approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of the disease in the UK, underpinned by translational research. They are fully supported by both the Behçet’s patient association and international collaborations with Centres of Excellence in countries with a high incidence of the disease.
Professor Fortune said: “Over the past two decades we have had huge support for our research from those who suffer from Behçet’s, and we have learnt about this chronic and poorly understood disease from the patients’ perspective. Becoming a Centre of Excellence creates the potential for improvements in clinical outcomes and research that identifies new drug targets and, importantly, it will allow us to place even greater focus on caring for patients and improving their quality of life.”
Jan Mather, Chair of the Behçet’s Syndrome Society, added: “It is not exaggerating to say that these Centres will drastically change the way Behçet’s patients are cared for and diagnosed in the future and it’s through the drive and initiative of the Behçet’s Syndrome Society, working in partnership with the specialists in Behçet’s disease, that it will become reality. These Centres will transform the care and, therefore, the quality of life for Behçet’s patients.”
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