University of Edinburgh
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Officially launched on 16 April, STOPCOVID is a rapidly-developing research programme at the University of Edinburgh – o ...
Officially launched on 16 April, STOPCOVID is a rapidly-developing research programme at the University of Edinburgh – one of the world’s top 20 universities with an outstanding track record in medical and health breakthroughs – that will identify and test new treatments for COVID-19 at unparalleled speed.
Based at Edinburgh BioQuarter, STOPCOVID will unite interdisciplinary scientists from the Centre for Inflammation Research (CIR), clinical research teams in NHS Lothian and University of Edinburgh, regulatory teams, and clinical trial networks – including redeploying 150 researchers from the CIR – and link them up with a global partnership of researchers, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare systems. Together, our researchers possess exquisitely relevant expertise for STOPCOVID research, translating scientific discoveries into real world impacts, including regulation and therapeutic manipulation of inflammatory pathways and unique lung imaging techniques.
STOPCOVID is prioritising inflammatory drug compounds for testing, ready to share findings in real-time for the benefit of populations worldwide. Rolling out at an unprecedented scale, we are seeking contributions towards the €17.2m required to get these newly-developed and tested treatments to the front line and to broaden and deepen the scope of international collaboration.
We believed this is an effective strategy against COVID-19 because it is: Targeted – by targeting this intervention at a critical point we aim to prevent the need for ventilation, intensive care and ultimately loss of life; Faster – we will evaluate at speed new drug targets and with our unique technology assess their effectiveness in the living human lung; Affordable – many of these drugs are “off patent” and several pharmaceutical companies have agreed to provide access to their compounds; Scalable – these drugs can be deployed across the world, on a widespread, practical and low cost basis.
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What we need help with
The disease and Edinburgh’s unique technology: COVID-19 kills when lungs become inflamed and the delicate lung tissues are destroyed. This sets off a cascade of processes that result in lung failure and the need for artificial ventilation. There is a critical time-point, before the need for ventilation, when treatment of lung inflammation can prevent further deterioration. It is precisely this time point that STOPCOVID will target. We have a 30-year history at the University of developing therapies for serious lung conditions and we have already identified key drugs that may be effective in treating COVID-19. In 2018 we announced a unique optical imaging technology, which can monitor the impact of drugs on the lungs via in vivo imaging in real-time in patients at Edinburgh’s co-located main hospital. This is far quicker than normal with no need to send samples away to laboratories and receive results days later. The technology has already been used to address bacterial infections in the lung. We are developing processes at speed to deploy it for viral-induced lung damage, specifically assessing drugs to target COVID-19. There is no comparable technology available worldwide to evaluate drugs individually or in combination, deep in the lung of living patients with COVID-19. We are seeking to implement this screening technology to complement our drug repurposing experimental clinical studies for the benefit of the world. Why is this an effective strategy against COVID-19? Targeted – by targeting this intervention at a critical point we aim to prevent the need for ventilation, intensive care and ultimately loss of life; Faster – we will evaluate at speed new drug targets and with our unique technology assess their effectiveness in the living human lung; Affordable – many of these drugs are “off patent” and several pharmaceutical companies have agreed to provide access to their compounds; Scalable – these drugs can be deployed across the world, on a widespread, practical and low cost basis. An international endeavour: We have partners in India, Australia (University of Melbourne), the USA (California Life Sciences Institute), Malawi, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, as well as extensive research and healthcare connections in Scotland and across the UK. We are exploring many opportunities to deliver this project with collaborators worldwide. Rarely, if ever, has a scientific shared endeavour been more important. Why Edinburgh? • The University can deploy unique technologies directly relevant to respiratory medicine. • Through our own research portfolio and emerging global findings, we have access to targeted drugs that we believe have the best chance of success in rapid trials. • Over 150 expert researchers and staff from Edinburgh’s UK-leading Centre for Inflammation Research and the wider University and NHS have begun conducting lab-based drug discovery on COVID-19 tissues, ready for translation into on-site experimental medicine clinical studies. • We have national and international collaborations in place to deliver a transnational “team science” approach to the problem. • At the time of writing, we have already secured €3.75 m of the €17.2m required to rapidly translate our research into treatments. The need for these studies is urgent. The University is seeking enlightened, focused philanthropic leadership to fast track our endeavour, accelerating new treatments and their deployment worldwide.
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