Norwich researchers play part in pneumonia test for coronavirus patients

UEA researchers are taking part in a study to identify the cause of a patient’s pneumonia to quicke

UEA researchers are taking part in a study to identify the cause of a patient’s pneumonia to quicken up treatment. Picture: UEA - Credit: Archant

Norwich researchers’ work into speeding up the treatment of pneumonia is now being used to help coronavirus patients.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is working in collaboration with University College London (UCL) on the INHALE trial to identify the cause of pneumonia and ensure quicker treatment.

Now, to help coronavirus patients the study is investigating secondary pneumonia patients to guide their treatment.

Pneumonia is one of the main symptoms of severe Covid-19, resulting in many critically ill patients being put onto ventilators to help their breathing.

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However, the university said ventilation can increase the risk of bacteria entering the lungs, which can create a secondary pneumonia.

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The study’s co-chief investigator, Prof David Livermore from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We know that some Covid-19 patients get secondary pneumonias but it’s a new disease and no one knows what types of bacteria are most likely.

“This refocusing of INHALE aims to provide that information, and to do it quickly enough to support the treatment of individual patients.”

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“Covid-19 is a ‘black swan’ event, which came suddenly and changed everything. It disrupted INHALE’s original plan. But it has also created a vital medical need - to test if real time information on secondary bacterial pneumonias improves treatment of the sickest, ventilated Covid-19 patients. And we’ve quickly refocused INHALE to do exactly that.”

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Dr Vicky Enne, from UCL, said the tests carried out can identify the bacteria directly from patient’s samples without the need to be tested in a lab, speeding up the process.

The test can pinpoint 26 pneumonia pathogens, detect whether these have critical antibiotic resistances and be obtained in an hour.

The information can inform medical staff on which antibiotics to give patients, reducing the use of unnecessary antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.

The study’s findings has already been used for more than 50 patients at hospitals including UCLH, the Royal Free, Watford General, Chelsea and Westminster and Liverpool University Hospitals.

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