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Study to look at Covid-19 impact on blood cancer patients

Friday May 22nd, 2020

A new UK study is to be launched that will examine how patients who receive stem cell transplants for blood cancers and blood disorders react to severe Covid-19 infection.

Launched by IMPACT, a partnership of organisations that are jointly funded by Anthony Nolan, Leukaemia UK and NHS Blood and Transplant, the study will be led by Dr Giovanna Lucchini from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

It will monitor how adult and paediatric stem cell transplant recipients react to severe Covid-19 infection by profiling how their immune systems respond, and will also use clinical and biological characteristics to assess how the virus impacts their recovery and overall survival.

Once researchers have a better understanding of how these high-risk patients react to the new novel coronavirus, it could provide the scientific basis for using targeted therapy with biological agents to treat them more effectively.

Current data suggests that 15% of people infected with Covid-19 will have to receive hospital treatment, including respiratory support.

However, patients taking medication for conditions like graft vs host disease (GvHD), could also suffer from additional complications that could lead to patients taking longer to recover.

IMPACT Medical Director Professor David Marks said the study aims to recruit between 20 and 60 stem cell transplant patients being treated in IMPACT centres across the UK.

To be eligible, patients must have tested positive for Covid-19 and have symptoms that require oxygen treatment.

Researchers will need to take a blood sample within 72 hours of the patient receiving oxygen to enable analysis for immunological biomarkers, including white blood cell numbers and signalling molecules that control the immune system.

Patients will be examined at 30 and 100 days following their Covid-19 diagnosis to assess their recovery progress.

Prof Marks said: “This non-interventional study will recruit adults and children from UK IMPACT centres and may help us better understand the mechanisms of lung dysfunction in this patient group, and the factors that are associated with an adverse outcome.

“Transplant patients who are infected may react differently to the normal population; there is already some evidence that this infection is very serious after a transplant. Understanding the changes in cytokines may enable us to offer these patients targeted therapies with the goal of improving outcomes.”

Anthony Nolan’s chief executive Henny Braund said: “This important study has the potential to offer a promising step forward in how we understand the effects of the Covid-19 respiratory illness on patients with weakened immune systems.”

NHS Blood and Transplant’s James Griffin, consultant haematologist at NHS Blood and Transplant and University Hospitals Bristol added: “IMPACT has enabled the trial to be set up and opened in an incredibly short time and should result in quick recruitment. This is novel research led by an expert team at Great Ormond Street Hospital and will provide important data to help inform stem cell transplant doctors and patients during the current SARS-CoV2 pandemic.”

Source: Anthony Nolan

Tags: Cancer | Flu & Viruses | Respiratory | UK News

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