Nottingham respiratory expert part of ground breaking study into COVID-19

Thursday, 02 April 2020

As most people face weeks of staying at home to try to stop COVID-19 spreading, researchers at Nottingham University Hospitals and the University of Nottingham have started a new clinical research study to find ways to defeat the disease.

At the moment, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19 itself – the approach doctors are using is to try to improve symptoms such as breathlessness, fever, and cough, so the patient’s own defences have time to defeat the virus.

The new study, led by the University of Oxford, is to investigate whether drug treatments originally developed for other conditions can also help treat patient with COVID-19.

The trial started last week and has already recruited three patients in Nottingham to take part.

The drugs being tested are Lopinavir-Ritonavir, which is normally used to treat HIV, interferon-beta which is part of our normal immune system, and dexamethasone, which is used in a wide range of conditions to reduce inflammation.

The aim is to compare these different drugs to see which offers the best results for patients.

Professor Ian Hall

Respiratory physician Professor Ian Hall, from the University of Nottingham and Director of NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, is one of the experts involved in the trial. He said: “We know quite a lot about potential side effects of these drugs as they are already used to treat people. The study is designed to allow new treatments to be offered to patients as they become identified by the international scientific community.”

If Nottingham patients decide they want to be part of the research, they’ll still receive the normal treatment to help with their symptoms, plus potentially one or other of the drugs.

“Every suitable COVID-19 patient at Nottingham’s QMC and City Hospitals will be considered for the study and we hope as many as possible are able to take part in the study. The funding for the study, announced by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty on Monday, is being supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR),” adds Professor Hall.

Researchers at NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre are also studying other approaches to defeating COVID-19, such as: How do younger patients respond to treatment, especially if they are on immunosuppressive drugs? What are the best ways of treating the virus in intensive care units? How does the virus affect patients who are having surgery?

Many of the researchers are front-line doctors and nurses, working every day with patients. Being involved in ground breaking research directly helps improve the treatment those patients receive.

Research studies such as these will help inform the health services about how best to treat patients, and how to minimise the impact of any future outbreaks of COVID-19. As doctors, nurses, and scientists, we are all part of one team, working hard to bring this unprecedented outbreak to an end, so life for all of us can return to normal.

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For more information on the work of the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, visit

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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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