Nottingham researchers launch next generation COVID-19 research

Nottingham researchers launch next generation COVID-19 research

Researchers in Nottingham are today (15 July 2020) launching a new study platform for the next generation of COVID-19 clinical research.

The Nottingham Recovery from COVID-19 Research Platform (NoRCoRP) will bring together projects examining the impacts and lasting effects of COVID-19, translating findings from patients who are known to have contracted the virus into new approaches to treatment to support their recovery.

Researchers also believe NoRCoRP will provide new insights for the NHS and social care, enabling services to be more responsive to the long-term impact of caring for patients, some of whom seem to be at risk of developing longer term conditions as a consequence of COVID-19.

Professor Ian Hall, Director of the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and co-Principal Investigator for NoRCoRP, says the challenge for researchers now is to provide rapid answers to the extent of the debilitating and long-lasting symptoms patients are experiencing as they recover from COVID-19: “We know that COVID-19 can be a devastating illness for some patients with significant levels of infection; this new research platform will enable us to develop accurate models to predict which patients are likely to go on to develop physical and psychological conditions once they have recovered from the initial infection. 

“Whilst a lot of focus is quite rightly on potential future waves of COVID-19 infection - and we are also supporting research which is giving us more data about the epidemiology of the virus - potentially the biggest health impacts both for individuals and society as a whole are those that come as a consequence of COVID-19 infection rather than from the acute effects of the virus itself.”

Co-Principle Investigator, Professor Charlotte Bolton, added: “We hope that by bringing together academic, clinical, data and scientific experts from a wide range of disciplines, we will be able to better support patients who are in recovery, and also accurately predict those who are at greater risk of developing complications from COVID-19.  We know that many patients are experiencing ongoing breathlessness, fatigue, cognitive and psychological symptoms. Our aim is to identify the potential conditions caused by COVID-19 and provide answers as to why some people are more at risk of developing these than other people and how best we can speed up recovery.”

Mike Wilkins, a patient who is recovering from COVID-19, and who is now being supported through one of the specialist clinics set up at NUH to care for people living with the lasting effects of COVID-19, describes his experience: “I was extremely ill with COVID-19 throughout March and April and spent three weeks in intensive care in an induced coma breathing through a ventilator. 

“I would like to thank the Nottingham University Hospitals team, and following my discharge from hospital, the community Reablement team and throughout the whole time, my wife Mandy, without whose constant support and care I don’t think I would have survived. 

“I am much stronger and mobile now. I do have however, ongoing symptoms, even three months after discharge. It was great to be able to discuss my health and recovery progress at the Nottingham Post-COVID multidisciplinary clinic and to learn and understand what services are available to help to alleviate the lasting effects of COVID. It is clear that there are many aspects of COVID recovery that are not fully understood so there is a vital need for people to be assessed for ongoing symptoms and to research COVID more.”

In NoRCoRP experts from the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre will bring together teams from Respiratory medicine, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, musculoskeletal and mental health disciplines, together with frontline NHS clinicians from hospital and GP services to try and develop a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to rehabilitation for patients with long-term physical and psychological conditions. Their research will look at patients right across the spectrum of COVID-19 from those admitted to hospital to those who remained at home or in care homes.

The new Platform, the first to be launched by the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre for COVID-19, is supported by funding from Research and Innovation at NUH, which hosts the BRC, and where dedicated clinics for patients like Mike who are recovering from COVID-19 are now taking place. 

NoRCoRP includes projects led by researchers from the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, the NHS and the University of Nottingham and aims to develop an expanding programme of research into COVID-19 recovery following its initial launch.