New resource to support research into COVID-19

The NIHR BioResource has launched a new resource to support research into COVID-19

As part of the NIHR BioResource, this will allow people tested in hospital for COVID-19 to participate in research by providing biological samples (such as blood, and the swab used to test for COVID-19) and answering some questions about their lifestyle and mental health.

NHS staff undergoing routine screening for COVID-19 are also being asked if they would like to participate in NIHR COVID-19 BioResource, in order to safely collect samples representing a variety of COVID-19 experiences – from those displaying none or mild symptoms to those with more severe experiences.

The samples will support current and future research – including on-going research to find new and faster ways to test patients and staff, why the virus affects people in different ways and find new treatments to treat the disease.

Locally collected samples are sent to the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease (CITIID), where Professor Ken Smith and his team are looking in the laboratory at participants’ immune responses to the virus.

Professor Smith said: “By understanding more about participants’ immune response to the virus, we hope to find out why some people get severe and indeed life-threatening COVID-19 while others have very mild symptoms.

“This information will help in the development of effective vaccines and in the targeting of existing “repurposed” treatments. It may also help doctors to identify people at risk of progressing to severe disease, who might then benefit from early treatment.”

Director of the NIHR BioResource, Dr Nathalie Kingston said: “We have already shown the value of a BioResource to researchers in both common and rare diseases and we aim to make this new initiative an equally vital resource for COVID-19 research.

“We are already enrolling patients attending Cambridge University Hospitals but we will expand to patients at other NIHR BioResource centres across England, as soon as this is practical and permissible.

“We have a special interest in enrolling patients under 40 who are admitted to hospital, and who seem to have a different immune response. We will also be working alongside Paediatrics Intensive Care Units across the country to enrol patients under the age of 16 and their parents.”

If you are admitted to Cambridge University Hospitals with suspected COVID-19 and would like to find out more, please talk to a member of the team looking after you. It is also possible for those with mild COVID-19 symptoms to participate in COVID-19 research by joining the BioResource and completing survey-based studies. More information is available here.

Good to know:

  • Participants in NIHR COVID-19 BioResource may be offered opportunities to take part in further research to help researchers understand more about COVID-19. You are free to decide if you want to take part.
  • The samples and information you provide are ‘de-identified’ – this means that information that can identify you is safely and securely stored separately from your health information, and will only be used to contact you about studies you may be suitable to take part in. Researchers using the information for research cannot identify you from the information available to them.
  • Joining NIHR COVID-19 BioResource does not prevent you from joining any other COVID-19 research study.

Find out more:
What’s involved when you join the BioResource
What to do if you change your mind

Coronavirus particles illustration derived from CDC image 2871
Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS