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As the global health crisis has affected the world, researchers in Queen’s have worked to advance our knowledge of the global challenges presented by COVID-19. We are leading numerous research projects to directly tackle the pandemic across a range of aspects.

Our researchers are running important clinical trials aimed at improving the treatment and patient outcomes for critically ill COVID-19 patients 

One is a collaborative project between Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Warwick that is testing the efficacy of non-invasive interventions at an earlier stage in disease progression as an effective alternative to using ventilators for COVID-19 patients.  (NIHR funded; Danny McAuley, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine)

A second clinical trial is testing a novel cell therapy approach whereby cells derived from human tissues are being used to treat lung injury in patients with ARDS caused by COVID-19.  It is hoped that this approach will rectify the underlying causes of serious lung damage.  (HSC funded; Danny McAuley & Cecilia O’Kane, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine)

Leading the search for new diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and new anti-viral drugs to treat COVID-19 infection

An alliance between Queen’s researchers and a leading local biotech company (Fusion Antibodies) is using the latest technologies to develop new antibody tools to both help detect and neutralise SARS-CoV-2.  (INI funded; Chris Scott, The Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research & Fuquan Liu, School of Biological Sciences)

In the search for new drugs, researchers at Queen’s initiated a new collaboration between a virologist and a haematologist who are working with their teams to screen over 500,000 drug combinations on lung tissue models infected with COVID-19 in the laboratory.  (UKRI funded; Ultan Power, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine & Ken Mills, The Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research)

In other research at Queen’s, a new, rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 is being developed in collaboration with company HiberGene Diagnostics. (EC funded; Cliff Taggart, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine)

“We recognise how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the very fabric of how we function as a society. Recognising this new reality, our research expertise in domains including health and life sciences, secure connected intelligence, economic, legal, ethical, psychological and social sciences is being brought to bear to help deliver robust solutions for the one of the greatest challenges that this planet has faced in the last 100 years.”

Professor Mark Lawler, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Digital Health
Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences

Our researchers are developing new knowledge on the diverse impacts of coronavirus

Researchers are undertaking systematic reviews to produce evidence that will inform healthcare decision makers by gathering robust data on the effects of interventions for COVID-19 and its impact, with the aim of alleviating its effects.  (Mike Clarke, Centre for Public Health)

In Psychology researchers are running surveys to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health, including the impacts of imposed quarantine with the aim of better managing the anxieties that quarantine can provoke.  (Cherie Armour, School of Psychology)

Another study aims to assess the health, healthcare and psychosocial impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on patients with cancer, those with a pre-cancerous condition and patients with rare diseases and to evaluate its impact on caregivers during and after the coronavirus pandemic using an online survey.  (Lesley Ann Anderson & colleagues, Centre for Public Health)

Researchers are working to develop a better understanding of how to prepare for, and respond to, global pandemics through the lens of a rights-based approach, offering a vital reference for policy-making at national and global levels that prioritises fair pandemic preparedness to cross border health threats. (EU funded; Patrycja Dąbrowska-Kłosińska & Thérèse Murphy, School of Law)

Another project will examine the impacts of the pandemic on the working practices of foundation trainees fast-tracked into practice, doctors redeployed to unfamiliar clinical services, and recently retired doctors recalled to practice.  The work will identify pathways to positive impact and for workforce development more generally. (Tim Dornan, Centre for Medical Education)

Our researchers are developing fundamental understanding of coronavirus disease complexities

Conservative estimates suggest that at least 20% of COVID-19 patients have other infections as well - researchers are examining the role that co-infections play in the progression of COVID-19 infections to help inform the future management of the disease in these patients. (Jose Bengoechea, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine)

Our researchers are addressing critical shortages of key reagents / drugs

Chemists at Queen’s are actively addressing issues of importance to COVID-19 control.

The global shortage of guanidinium thiocyanate which is a critically important component of many testing kits is being addressed by the development of new, more efficient synthesis methods. (Stuart James, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)