In a significant milestone for medical research, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust has played a pivotal role in the GenOMICC trial, the world's largest study investigating the genetics of critical Covid-19. North Mid placed 6th overall in the UK for our successful efforts to recruit more than 400 patients for the trial.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-supported study, involving over 57,000 participants across the UK, has unveiled crucial insights into the biological mechanisms underlying severe cases of the disease.
The study, led by the GenOMICC consortium in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and Genomics England, sequenced the genomes of 7,491 critically ill Covid-19 patients from 224 intensive care units. The research identified 16 new genetic variants associated with severe Covid-19, shedding light on factors related to blood clotting, immune response, and the intensity of inflammation.
At the forefront of the successful recruitment efforts was North Mid’s research and audit lead Dhana Bakthavatsalam, who used her extensive experience in intensive care nursing dating back to 1999 to sensitively obtain consent from families of critically ill patients. Her adept communication skills and compassionate approach contributed to the trust's strong recruitment numbers.
The study, initiated in February 2020, compared the DNA of critically ill covid-19 patients with that of individuals who had not contracted the virus and those who had experienced mild cases. The comprehensive genomic analysis enabled researchers to pinpoint genetic variations linked to the severity of covid-19.
This collaborative effort not only advances our understanding of the genetic factors influencing severe Covid-19 but also underscores the importance of compassionate patient engagement and skilled healthcare professionals in driving the success of groundbreaking medical research.
Dhana said: “I am proud that our trust managed to recruit so many patients. It will give researchers a guide as to how to treat this virus in future. We thank our patients and their loved ones who volunteered to contribute to this study at one of the most difficult times in their lives, our critical care team for their contributions in the recruitment and the research and development team for their support.
Dhana added: “Special thanks to the contributors on this massive undertaking: Dr Jeronimo Moreno Cuesta, principal investigator, research director and critical care consultant, Rachel Vincent research nurse, Sandra Essien, research midwife and research and development manager, Dr Kugan Xavier, Dr Kapil Jain, Swati Jain, Dr Srinivas Vemuri, Dr Chamali Aluwihare, Leena John, Dr Maryjane Oziegbe, and Suhieb Alhouurani.”