Covid-19 research programme launched by Barts Health and Queen Mary

A new programme of Covid-19 research has begun by Barts Health NHS Trust and Queen Mary University of London.

The research is part of the ‘Barts Life Sciences’ initiative which conducts research across Barts Health hospitals.

This includes the NHS Nightingale London hospital.

Patients infected with Covid-19 will be ‘recruited into clinical trials’ according to Barts Health NHS Trust.

The idea is to investigate why some patients become severely affected by the virus whereas others only suffer mild symptoms.

The clinical trials will also attempt to ‘investigate interventions’ to see if the survival rate for patients can be increased.

A new team has been put together of over a hundred volunteers made up of clinical researchers and scientists from other medical areas.

The team of volunteers has been organised into smaller teams and ‘trained to support enrolment and delivery of Covid-19 studies’ to benefit patients.

One key consideration according to Barts Health, when studying Covid-19 patients, has been how to deliver clinical trials whilst minimising the risk to patients and staff:

‘Taking studies approved by the National Institute for Health Research, the teams have developed innovative electronic consenting, processes to contact families or carers where a person is ventilated, enabling research in those most severely affected by the disease.’

Patients have been enrolled into clinical trials just 10 days after the Nightingale London hospital opened.

This has been made possible in such a short period of time thanks to ‘team work and courage’ of volunteers from across the NHS alongside university partners – Queen Mary, UCL and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Research data will be collected on a daily basis in order to curate a ‘large, de-identified research data set’ for future Covid-19 research by Queens.

Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, from Queen Mary and Barts Health has been leading on COVID-19 research delivery across Barts Health hospitals, including the NHS Nightingale Hospital London. He said:

“The opening of research studies at the new Nightingale field hospital in just 10 days ensures patients at all Barts Health Hospitals can get equal opportunities to participate in research.” 

“It was only possible through the amazing group of 100 plus clinical research volunteers who, at their risk, have stood shoulder to shoulder with frontline NHS staff in the fight against COVID 19 and that is what Barts Life Sciences is about.”

Dr David Collier who led clinical research training from Queen Mary and Barts Health said:

“The response of over 100 volunteers, some helping from isolation at home, has enabled us to support clinical trials that would not be happening otherwise and underscores the commitment of Barts Health and Queen Mary to the community of London.” 

“As a result of their commitment and leadership, a hospital created in a conference centre has now enrolled its first research patients just days after it opened its doors.”

Barts Health and Queen Mary teams, led by Prof Rupert Pearse and Dr Mays Jawad, have expedited approval of studies with a national priority.

Professor Charles Knight, Chief Executive of the NHS Nightingale Hospital London and Professor of Cardiology at Queen Mary said: 

“I’m deeply honoured to have been given this responsibility at a time of great pressure on the NHS and so proud that staff across Barts Health are rising to this challenge so magnificently.”