COVID-19 research led by Cambridge
Alongside the excellent care our staff are delivering, we are using our tremendous research capabilities to better understand COVID-19 and its successful management, including development of innovative approaches to testing and treatment.
National studies that we are supporting in Cambridge Hospitals include: PRIEST (Pandemic Respiratory Infection Emergency System Triage) to optimise the triage of people using the emergency care system; RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COvid-19 thERapY), a trial of potential therapies that can be adapted to introduce new treatment arms as potential therapies emerge; and REMAP-CAP (Randomised, Embedded, Multifactorial, Adaptive Platform trial), a trial designed to evaluate a number of treatment options simultaneously and efficiently in critically ill patients.
We have also developed a new research resource in the NIHR COVID-19 BioResource, which will allow all patients admitted to Cambridge hospitals to participate in research studies by providing biological samples and health information. We have recruited over 100 BioResource participants, and the first samples have already been processed for analysis. The NIHR COVID-19 BioResource will be instrumental in understanding why the virus affects people in such different ways and identifying new treatments.
Our SAMBA (simple amplification-based assay) point of care test is already helping us rapidly find out whether patients have COVID-19 and ensure that they receive the right treatment in the right ward of the hospital.
We would like to thank all of the clinical and research staff who have made these remarkable achievements possible in such a short period of time, as well as all of the patients who have participated in our studies and made such a valuable contribution to improving care and treatment for COVID-19.
Page last reviewed: 26 January 2021.
DHSC statement on prioritising research studies and deploying NIHR CRN-funded staff
The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) has provided guidance relating to the prioritisation of research studies and deployment of NIHR CRN-funded staff in the current situation. Please find their statement below.
We recognise that at the current time those working in many NHS sites are under huge pressure as the number of COVID-19 cases and admissions to hospitals continue to rise and frontline clinical staff are unable to work due to sickness.
While we have a small number of proven treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, more are needed to reduce transmission, reduce the number of patients that require hospitalisation and to improve outcomes for those that do.
It is therefore critical that at this challenging time we continue to recruit participants to our urgent public health (UPH) studies. The current levels of prioritisation for research studies, set out within the Restart Framework, still apply as follows:
- Level 1a (Top Priority) – COVID-19 UPH vaccine and prophylactic studies (as prioritised by the Vaccines Task Force and agreed by Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy CMO) and platform therapeutics trials (currently RECOVERY/RECOVERY +; PRINCIPLE; REMAP CAP)
- Level 1b – Other COVID-19 UPH studies
- Level 2 – Studies where the research protocol includes an urgent treatment or intervention without which patients could come to harm. These might be studies that provide access to potentially life preserving or life-extending treatment not otherwise available to the patient
- Level 3 – All other studies (including COVID-19 studies not in Level 1a or 1b)
NIHR guidance for a second wave of covid 19 activity still applies and, as outlined, states that the deployment of staff funded through an NIHR Infrastructure award or funded by the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) to front-line duties should only occur in exceptional circumstances.
The deployment of clinical academic staff should be undertaken within the guidelines issued by a working group convened by the UK Clinical Academic Training Forum and the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans of the UK.
Where NHS Trusts consider they need to redeploy staff to support the frontline this should only be done to support clinical activity during the emergency phase of the pandemic and we would expect them to return to their R&D roles as soon as possible, once the pressures on the system reduce.
As indicated by the Restart Framework, at the current time, we need to continue prioritise our support for the most urgent COVID-19 research as part of the response to tackle the pandemic.
At the same time we need to ensure we continue to try and maintain support to deliver non-COVID studies currently open on the portfolio, particularly those within Level 2. A system-wide Recovery, Resilience and Growth programme has been established which brings together the key partners across the clinical research ecosystem to ensure the UK is well-positioned to take a coordinated national approach to achieving the recovery of the UK’s clinical research delivery and restore a full, diverse and active research portfolio as soon as practicable.
This list will be updated when new studies open to patients on site; please visit here for recruiting studies at CUH led by other hospitals. A list of the national studies already prioritised and approved by NIHR can be found here.
The TACTIC-E clinical trial is testing whether novel therapeutic agents or novel combinations of approved agents can prevent the development of severe symptoms in patients hospitalised with confirmed COVID-19.
The treatments currently being tested in TACTIC-E are:
- Ambrisentan in combination with Dapagliflozin
As in TACTIC-R, this study has been designed to swap out and add in alternative treatments, based on emerging data as the trial progresses. Click to read: TACTIC-E trial to test whether a simple microbe could be an effective treatment for COVID-19
This Cambridge-led, national trial will test whether two drugs that are already in use to treat other immune-related conditions can prevent the development of severe COVID-19 symptoms in patients admitted to hospital. Each of the drugs initially included in the trial, ravulizumab and baricitinib, target a different part of the over-active immune response thought to be the cause of severe COVID-19 disease. TACTIC-R is designed as a platform trial, so that further existing or new drugs that show promise for treating COVID-19 can easily be added to the trial. The chief investigator of TACTIC is Dr Frances Hall, Consultant Rheumatologist at Cambridge University Hospitals.
The Prolific study (ChemoPROphyLaxIs For covId-19 infeCtious disease) aims to determine whether hydroxychloroquine, a drug widely used to prevent and treat malaria, is effective at preventing or reducing COVID-19 infection in frontline healthcare workers, including NHS staff, paramedics and people working in care homes. PROLIFIC will compare whether participants taking daily or weekly doses of hydroxychloroquine are less likely to be infected, or experience reduced symptoms than those taking a daily or weekly dose of a placebo. Neither participants nor the study clinicians will know whether they are receiving hydroxychloroquine or the placebo (a double-blinded study). PROLIFIC aims to recruit 1200 participants from hospitals across the country, and is run by the Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit through the Cambridge Centre for Clinical Research.
Creation of a cohort of COVID-19 patients to support research. Led by Professors Ken Smith and John Bradley, the NIHR COVID-19 BioResource allows patients admitted with suspected COVID-19 to participate in research by providing blood and other biological samples. Participants provide blood samples and nasal swabs, as well as consent to access their health records and completion of a short mental health questionnaire. Blood samples will undergo detailed analysis to assess immune responses to infection, in order to understand the determinants of disease course and severity. Combi ning these data with health records and genomic information will enable researchers to assess physical and mental health outcomes of infection.
- COPING study with NIHR BioResource: This study is being run by King’s College London and the NIHR BioResource. The COPING study will assess the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on mental, physical and neurological health. Researchers are interested in how different factors associated with the virus are affecting the population. Members of the NIHR BioResource, GLAD Study and EDGI are being invited to take part in this study.If you have any questions or want further information on the study, you can contact the COPING Study team: COPINGstudy@kcl.ac.uk
Evaluation of a rapid test (diagnostic) for COVID-19 in clinical care. Led by Professor Ravindra Gupta and Dr Helen Lee, using the SAMBA-II machine. This technology was developed while Dr Lee was at Cambridge’s Department of Haematology and provides diagnostic information on the ward within 2 hours.
Using linkage of data from existing research cohorts such as NIHR BioResource to Public Health England and NHS-Digital in collaboration with HDRUK. Led by Professor John Danesh
COVID-19 Research for healthy volunteers and those with mild symptoms
The studies listed above are all recruiting patients who are hospitalised with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you have experienced mild COVID-19 symptoms or have not had the infection, there are still a variety of ways that you can support essential COVID-19 research. You can find out more about those opportunities here.
More information about COVID-19 research in Cambridge
Researchers from across Cambridge are collaborating closely to understand COVID-19 better and identify successful diagnostics and treatments. The links below highlight how we are working with our partners on the Biomedical Campus and throughout Cambridge on these essential studies:
- COVID-19 research studies from the University of Cambridge Department of Public Health and Primary Care
- Cambridge Fights COVID website outlining the collaborative COVID-19 effort across the Cambridge Biomedical Campus
- NIHR Applied Research Collaboration East of England COVID-19 Projects
Information for Research Teams
If you are a researcher in or around Cambridge who is looking for healthy volunteers for COVID-19 research or would like to involve our PPI panel in your research, please get in touch with the CUH R&D PPI and Communications team at email@example.com.
In order to feature in this list, the study needs to be registered through CUH R&D and be recruiting patients from in and around Cambridge. Cambridge based researchers are welcome to involve the CUH PPI panel at any stage of their research project or proposal.