Visiting restrictions - essential visitors only

To help us keep our patients, staff and visitors safe, stop the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) and keep our hospitals running, we are restricting visiting to essential visitors only – click here for more information

15th May 2020

Trust joins fight against Coronavirus in ground-breaking new study

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has joined the fight against Coronavirus by recruiting COVID-19 patients to participate in a ground-breaking new study of the disease performed by the partnership between the GenOMICC Study Consortium (led by the University of Edinburgh) and Genomics England. The study, announced by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, will help us better understand the virus’ varied effects on people and support the search for treatments.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s GenOMICC project, will work together with Genomics England and over 170 NHS hospitals including Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH, the study aims to sequence the genomes of 20,000 people who are severely ill with COVID-19. 2000 patients have been recruited to the GenOMICC study already.

The data collected by ESHT and others will be compared to that from a further 15,000 COVID-19 patients who experienced only mild symptoms. This data will be collected from participants in the 100,000 Genomes Project and UK Biobank.

This ground-breaking research may help explain why some patients with COVID-19 experience a mild infection, others require intensive care and why for some it is sadly fatal. By discovering why some people are predisposed to developing life-threatening symptoms, the initiative will enable novel insights into the virus, as well as possible human factors that influence the effects of the disease, and whether a combination of both shape outcomes for NHS patients.

The Trust is now ready to begin recruiting patients to participate in the study and is aiming to recruit patients over the coming weeks.

Liz Still, Head of Research at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We are really pleased to be opening this important genetic study. This will help towards the national search for an understanding of the way in which genes contribute to the wider picture of severe illness and infections. This will also complement the contributions ESHT is making towards several clinical research studies seeking treatments to help patients with Covid-19.”

Dr Kenneth Baillie, Chief Investigator on the GenOMICC study, said: “Our genes play a role in determining who becomes desperately sick with infections like COVID-19. Understanding these genes will help us to choose treatments for clinical trials. The GenOMICC study has been running since 2016, and has been investigating genetic factors that impact how patients fare in response to a number of severe illnesses. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, and with the tremendous support of the UK critical care community, the study has expanded and accelerated enormously, and we are now recruiting in over 170 ICUs across the country. I am delighted to be working with East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust to deliver this important work.”

Chris Wigley, CEO of Genomics England said: “NHS Trusts are absolutely vital to the national response to this terrible pandemic, so I am extremely glad that East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has joined our efforts to gain new insights into how this virus affects us. With their help, and with the support and understanding of thousands of patients and their families, we hope we will be able to build identify treatments which have the best chance of success in clinical trials, and build on the work of the 100,000 Genomes Project to develop strong infrastructure for the future.”