Trinity Hall Fellow leads new trial to test treatments for COVID-19

The Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit under the leadership of Professor Ian Wilkinson, Trinity Hall Fellow in Clinical Medicine, has recently launched an important trial to test treatments for COVID-19. The trial, which is known as TACTIC, will test whether re-purposing existing drugs will stop the body’s immune system overreacting. Experts have found that in some Coronavirus patients the immune system goes into overdrive – destroying healthy cells in the process. This can result in serious damage to the lungs and multiple organ failure.

Selected patients at a network of hospitals across the UK, including Addenbrooke’s, will be given Ravulizumab and Baricitinib. Ravulizumab is commonly used to treat blood diseases where the immune system destroys red blood cells, while Baricitinib is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

The trial is part of the government’s quest to find potential new treatments for COVID-19.

Dr Frances Hall, TACTIC’s Chief Investigator said: “It is striking that the severe COVID-19-related disease is associated with the person’s own immune system causing most of the damage. It seems that, while most people’s immune system attacks the virus appropriately, in those who become really sick, the immune response appears to overreact.

“There is good reason to believe that either or both of these strategies could help prevent severe organ failure and even death in patients with COVID-19. I want to thank all the patients who agree to take part in this important trial – you are part of the solution to COVID-19. ”

Professor Ian Wilkinson, Director of the Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit, added: “This is a time of huge national effort in the fight against COVID-19 and I am delighted that Cambridge is playing a key role in this. TACTIC will test the effectiveness of a number of existing and new drugs in patients admitted to hospital, in a similar way to the RECOVERY trial, but with a strong focus on modulating the immune response and collecting high quality data that can be used by our partner pharmaceutical companies to seek the necessary approvals for widespread international use.”

Find out more about TACTIC

Interview with Professor Wilkinson