North East care provider to fund vital medical research into osteoporosis

L-R Professor David Deehan, Meenu Malhotra, Professor Sir Doug Turnbull and Dr Daniel Hipps

A LEADING North East care business has donated £33,000 to fund vital medical research in the region.


Newcastle-based leisure and hospitality giant, Malhotra Group plc, has awarded the sum to the Mitochondria Research Group at Newcastle University in a bid to help identify the cause and treatment of osteoporosis – thinning of the bones.


The condition affects millions of people worldwide and the donation from the family-owned company will be used to fund research to identify the mechanisms which cause it.


The research will be carried out by orthopaedic surgeon, Daniel Hipps, who is taking a three-year break from his surgical work at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and Freeman Hospital to conduct a PhD in the subject.


And its results could have far reaching implications, not only for patients, but also for the NHS.


Hip fractures alone, due to osteoporosis, cost the NHS more than £2bn a year with only 30 per cent of patients returning to their pre-injury condition and Mr Hipps’ research will focus on possible links with DNA mutations in mitochondria; the body’s ‘battery pack-like’ parts of the cell.


“I spend a lot of my time treating patients with broken bones and the majority of these are related to osteoporosis,” said Mr Hipps, a Clinical Research Fellow at Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience.


“I am extremely grateful for the support of the Malhotra Group plc, which has enabled me to take time out of clinical training and investigate the cause of osteoporosis, which remains poorly understood.


“Hopefully the new findings of this research will open up new treatment strategies, reducing fracture risk and benefiting patients.”


Malhotra Group is one of the region’s largest providers of residential care with 12 homes throughout the North East, operated by its Prestwick Care subsidiary.


Group chairman, Meenu Malhotra, said the donation was inspired by seeing the suffering the condition can cause.


“It causes bones to become weaker and, very often, to fracture,” he said, “which leaves patients in a great deal of pain and can be life-threatening.


“If new treatments can be developed as part of this research, then it may reduce the time older patients spend in hospital and help them remain independent for far longer.”


The Malhotra Group’s donation follows an earlier, personal, pledge of £100k made in 2013 by Meenu Malhotra to the former Newcastle Healthcare Charity to fund research into muscle injury in the elderly and trauma patients.


“I firmly believe this region is second to none in terms of its patient care and in the use of pioneering technologies,” he said, “and we should all be very proud of our hospitals and their achievements.


“This region has been very good to our family and this is our way of giving something back.”


The Mitochondrial Research Group is led by Sir Doug Turnbull, Professor of Neurology at Newcastle University, who said: “This is a very generous donation from the Malhotra Group to fund important medical research.


“Without their support this exciting new work to understand the cause of osteoporosis would not be possible.”


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