• Scientists Switch Roles in Search for Covid-19 treatments

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Scientists Switch Roles in Search for Covid-19 treatments

Apr 16 2020

The University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Inflammation Research is re-deploying up to 150 scientists to test existing and experimental drugs in increased efforts to find a treatment for Covid-19. 

The STOPCOVID project will focus on the inflammatory pathways that lead directly to lung injury and possible failure resulting in death. The drugs will be tested to see if they can block any damaging types of inflammation in the early stages of the disease to change the course of infection and prevent the need of a ventilator.

Medical research charity LifeArc, with its Centre for Diagnostics Development based at Edinburgh BioQuarter has provided £2 million in support and investment firm Baillie Gifford has also agreed to provide funding for the project. The team, which aims to raise a total of £15 million from the private sector, are collaborating with pharmaceutical companies from across the world and have already identified key drugs and mechanisms that are currently in development or are being used for other diseases. 

Experts are working in partnership with researchers from the University of Bath to use fibre-based technology that can deliver drugs into the body and provide real time images of the effects deep in the lungs. The technology could also be used to take samples of lung fluid for analysis.

Professor Kev Dhaliwal, STOPCOVID lead and Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Covid-19 is the biggest global challenge of a generation. By rapidly testing therapies that stop the inflammatory cascade associated with the most severe aspect of the disease – leading ultimately to respiratory failure – we can urgently discover ways to prevent the need for a ventilator. We must unite together, across sectors, across disciplines, across continents to tackle the devastating effects of this virus as fast as possible.”

Dr Catriona Crombie, Associate Director, Technology Transfer, LifeArc, said: “The work of Professor Dhaliwal and his team aligns to LifeArc’s focus on translational medical research and accelerating the development of promising ideas that address patient need. We are pleased to support STOPCOVID and be part of the collective effort in the rapid and effective testing of any promising medicines that could potentially provide a treatment option for Covid-19 patients at this crucial period.”

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