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Northampton General Hospital recruits first UK patient to pioneering Covid prevention research trial

MR1356 Rapid Protection Research Team with the first patient John

Some of Northampton General Hospital’s research team with the first patient John, from Northampton.

Northampton General Hospital has recruited the first patient in the UK to a new research trial which aims to help immuno-compromised patients to fight Covid-19.

The trial is called the RAPID-PROTECTION study and will operate at hospitals across the country with the aim of recruiting approximately 350 participants aged over 18.

It is investigating the use of Covid-19 vaccinations in combination with Evusheld, a new antibody treatment used for the prevention of Covid-19 infection.

It is for people with weakened immune systems – caused by cancer, inflammatory conditions, as a result of organ transplants or other serious health conditions – who remain at high risk of catching Covid-19 and becoming unwell.

The University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group (UHN) – which runs Northampton and Kettering general hospitals – has become the first Trust in the UK to set up the trial and see its first patients. The first patient John (surname withheld at request) from Northampton received his treatment on Tuesday, November 15, 2022.

John, 57, is eligible for the trial because he has myeloma, a form of blood cancer, and has had to shield during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to take part in this trial. Covid remains a real worry for immuno-supressed people and I hope that by taking part in the trial it will help to support future treatments for people with these conditions. Ofcourse it also gives me additional protection and enables me to feel a bit more relaxed about Covid.

“I want to say I am extremely grateful for the excellent ongoing care and treatment I am receiving from Dr Parker and the haematology team at NGH.”

Consultant Haematologist, Dr Jane Parker, who is leading the study at NGH, said: “The opportunity to get Evusheld to better protect against Covid-19 is monumental for our immunocompromised patients, especially as many have continued to shield or significantly restrict their lifestyle since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Hopefully, our patients can now start to get their lives more back to normal and enjoy some of the freedoms the rest of us have experienced since the Covid rules were relaxed.”

Kay Faulkner, Associate Director Research, Innovation, Education at the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire, said: “We are delighted to have recruited the first patient to the RAPID-PROTECTION study.

“This study will recruit participants with highly immunosuppressive conditions that are highly vulnerable to infection with the Covid-19 virus. All participants will receive Evusheld followed by an additional randomised Covid-19 vaccination booster 28 days after.

“We are passionate in using research to improve the lives of our patients. The Research and Innovation Team have worked hard with our Principal Investigator and Sponsor to open this study to the benefit of our patients.“

What is Evusheld?

Evusheld is a combination of two long-acting antibodies that bind to the spike protein on the outside of the SARS-CoV2 virus and prevents the virus from entering human cells.

It has been shown in clinical trials to prevent Covid-19 infection for up to a year after a single dose of two injections, giving protection within a few hours.

Unlike vaccines, Evusheld does not depend on a healthy immune system to generate protective immunity. Although Evusheld is known to be effective against the Omicron variant, it is not yet known how long this protection lasts.

This study will look at the levels of Evusheld over time in immunocompromised participants using blood tests. It will also test whether this protection can be further enhanced by giving a Covid-19 vaccine booster.

Participants will have a total of seven visits to hospital over a year where they will have blood tests to monitor their Covid-19 antibody levels to see how long protection lasts.

The study, which is sponsored by the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University, will be led by Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

Dr Emma Thomas-Jones, Deputy Director of Infections, Inflammation and Immunity Trials at the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University, said: “Our team at the Centre for Trials Research are delighted to be working in partnership with colleagues in Oxford on this important treatment trial for the prevention of serious Covid-19 infection in immunocompromised patients.

“These patients have been shielding for over two years, and hopefully this treatment, in conjunction with the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, will be beneficial for them. It is vital that research like this is conducted to help find new ways to protect these patients from Covid-19”.

Those interested in taking part in the trial who meet the eligibility criteria can find out more at the RAPID-PROTECTION website: https://www.rapid-protectionstudy.co.uk/

Participants must be willing to attend hospital for a total of seven visits throughout the study. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed. This clinical trial would not be suitable for anyone pregnant or intending to become pregnant in the next year.

Posted on Thursday 17th November 2022
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