University’s COVID-19 research works to advance our understanding of the virus
Launched just weeks after the UK’s first lockdown, the University of Liverpool’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Campaign raised more than £460,000 to fund crucial and ground-breaking research into the virus and its treatment and to support our students in financial need. Over 150 researchers redirected their skills and priorities to focus their research on the virus and to support the global fight against coronavirus.
Thanks to donations from alumni and friends of the University, £100,000 was allocated to nine research projects led by experts across the University last year. Since then, the University’s researchers have been working tirelessly on their projects to support and foster more knowledge about the virus and its impact so we can collectively work towards a global solution to the pandemic.
Researchers have been keen to acknowledge the contributions that donors to the campaign have made in advancing our understanding of COVID-19 and to describe just how their research will enable us to do that.
Studying the characterisation protocol for severe and emerging infections
Calum Semple OBE, Professor in Child Health and Outbreak Medicine, is leading a study into the characterisation protocol for severe and emerging infections that will help the existing pandemic preparedness infrastructure and help the scientific response to pandemics in the future.
Developing a tool to better record the effect of COVID-19 clinical trials on patients from their own perspective
Dr Dan Wootton, Senior Fellow in Infection and Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician and Dr Lucy Chambers are developing a tool to better record the effect of COVID-19 clinical trials on patients from their own perspective. When doctors perform a clinical trial the tools they use to decide which treatment works best are called ‘outcome measures’. The clinical trial regulators insist pneumonia trials include a ‘patient related outcome measure’ (PROM) such as how a treatment affects patients’ symptoms from their own perspective. Doctors’ assessments of patients’ symptoms rarely agree with the views of the patient.
Studying the severity of chronic fatigue in patients with COVID-19
Anne McArdle, Professor in Musculoskeletal Biology, is conducting a study in prolonged fatigue with a view to develop and optimise treatments for this fatigue. Patients recovering from COVID-19 following infection with the virus SARS-CoV-2 report a persistent, debilitating fatigue, reminiscent of other viral infections which bears considerable resemblance to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Researchers at the University have experience studying chronic fatigue in patients, therefore building on this knowledge, this study is aiming to characterise the fatigue in patients who have suffered from COVID-19 and understand whether treatments for patients with chronic fatigue can be used for those who have fatigue as a result of COVID-19.
Examining the relationship between COVID-19 and histones
Cheng-Hock Toh, Professor of Clinical Infection, Microbiology and Immunology, aims to shed light on the complex relationship between COVID-19 and histones, uncovering exactly how they work together. Many patients with COVID-19 suffer from and die of blood clots, which is also called thrombosis. Blood tests have also shown that COVID-19 causes cells to become damaged and that the body is inflamed. When blood vessels become inflamed, they form blood clots. Damaged cells cause inside-out release of a protein that is very toxic to other cells and is called histones. By understanding more about the relationship, it may be possible to target the processes to improve current treatments.
Examining the potential long-term consequences of COVID-19 on the mental health of health and social care workers
Jon Cole, Professor of Psychology and founder of the Tactical Decision-Making Research Group, is conducting a study to examine the potential long-term consequences of COVID-19 on the mental health of health and social care workers due to possible embitterment about what happened during the pandemic response. If not identified and dealt with now, there may be serious long-term health and social consequences for staff who have experienced moral injury.
Developing new tools to decipher the interactions between the COVID-19 virus and the immune system
Dr Georgios Pollakis, Senior research Fellow in Clinical Infection, Microbiology and Immunology, is developing new tools to decipher the interactions between the COVID-19 virus and the immune system. The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in modern medicine and where approximately 20% of those infected develop severe disease requiring hospitalisation. Although age and comorbidities are associated with disease severity in COVID-19 patients, many younger people develop a serious disease with unknown consequences regarding their future health. Better understanding these aspects will provide powerful insights into the disease process and where future interventions should be targeted or not.
Conducting a study to better understand immunity in symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases
To understand the immune response to COVID-19 Krishanthi Subramaniam, Research Associate at Institute of Global Health, is conducting a study to better understand immunity in symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. COVID-19 has infected hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and millions worldwide. The scale of the pandemic has brought an urgent need to understand the immune response to this emerging virus. Efforts to verify diagnostics have revealed potential complications because of seasonal circulation of other coronaviruses.
Studying the economic impact of the pandemic on small businesses within the Liverpool City Region
Professor Benito Giordano, Senior Lecturer in Innovation Management, is conducting a study on the economic impact of the pandemic on small businesses within the Liverpool City Region. The research will critically examine the impact incurred amongst the enterprise base of region and demonstrate whether different opportunities will open-up in new ways to include those often hard to reach groups, such as young people, women, the BAME community and in those communities where the majority of households are on low incomes.
How COVID-19 affects different types of cells in the lung
Professor Alistair Darby, Co-Director of the University’s Centre for Genomic Research, is studying how COVID-19 affects different types of cells in the lung in different ways. This research aims to provide an insight into interventions to stop virus replication and spread but also the potential to understand how the damage caused by the virus can be repaired or treated. Professor Darby featured in Liverpool Responds: Public Health, Viral Variants and Vaccinations, where he spoke about some of the research he’s been doing, if you missed this event, you can watch it here.
Professor William Hope, Dame Sally Davies Chair in AMR Research and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases Research, said: “We’ve taken a very practical view in our COVID research and contributed very much to the national and international effort in terms of: making new drugs; developing new drugs; finding and minimising the impact upon our population in Liverpool; describing the pandemic and how it affects different people and the reasons that it affects different people and also contributing to the national effort in the studies that have been done.”
“The nice thing about philanthropic monies is this recognition of the fact that the pandemic won’t be stopped by people wishing it away, it’s going to have to be stopped by scientific advances, advances in knowledge, and we can’t do that or at least start that without philanthropic donations, so its just very warming to see humans behaving and doing the right thing by each other. Thank you!”
Professor Calum Semple OBE and Professor Alistair Derby spoke of the University's research at the Liverpool Responds event focusing on public health, viral variants and vaccinations. If you missed this event, you can watch it here or watch the video above.
The University of Liverpool would like to thank all donors whose generosity and support has made our vital research studies possible and enabled ground-breaking research into the assessment and impact of COVID-19. If you would like to find out more about the University’s COVID-19 Campaign please visit our dedicated webpages here.