Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance joins fight against coronavirus

Posted on in Research

Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance has joined the fight against coronavirus by recruiting COVID-19 patients to participate in a ground-breaking new study.

The study, performed by the partnership between the GenOMICC Study Consortium (led by the University of Edinburgh) and Genomics England, will help develop a better understanding of the varied effects of the virus on people and support the search for treatments.

Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance (DTVRA) brings together County Durham and Darlington, North Tees and Hartlepool and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts, to provide more opportunities for patients to participate in research and clinical trials.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s GenOMICC project, will work together with Genomics England and over 170 NHS hospitals on the study which aims to sequence the genomes of 20,000 people who are severely ill with COVID-19 – around 2,000 patients have already been recruited.

The data collected by Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance (DTVRA) and others will be compared to that from a further 15,000 COVID-19 patients who experienced only mild symptoms. This data will be collected from participants in the 100,000 Genomes Project and UK Biobank.

This ground-breaking research may help explain why some patients with COVID-19 experience a mild infection, others require intensive care and why for some it is sadly fatal.

By discovering why some people are predisposed to developing life-threatening symptoms, the initiative will enable novel insights into the virus, as well as possible human factors that influence the effects of the disease, and whether a combination of both shape outcomes for NHS patients.

Jane Greenaway, associate director of Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance, said: “All three trusts are participating in a range of Chief Medical Officer urgent public health COVID-19 research studies with some of our trusts amongst the top 10 recruiting sites in the country for trials of different treatment options for COVID-19.

“Our research staff have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure that as many patients as possible are offered the opportunity to take part in these treatment trials.

“Almost 500 patients have been enrolled into COVID treatment trials across the Durham Tees Valley, with 11,000 enrolled nationally.

“In addition, for all patients who are COVID positive and admitted to hospital, we collect vital data for the global CCP ISARIC study. This detailed information informs the data presented in the Downing Street briefings and helps to identify possible patterns or problems that can be addressed in the treatment trials.”

Dr Kenneth Baillie, chief investigator on the GenOMICC study, said: “Our genes play a role in determining who becomes desperately sick with infections like COVID-19. Understanding these genes will help us to choose treatments for clinical trials.”

Chris Wigley, CEO of Genomics England said: “NHS trusts are absolutely vital to the national response to this terrible pandemic, so I am extremely glad that DTVRA has joined our efforts to gain new insights into how this virus affects us.”