Supporting Higher Education in London

Research and Development

A research project at Middlesex University  co-authored by Valerio Capraro, a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Middlesex University, has been widely covered by UK and US media after it found through a survey of more than 2,000 people that men were less likely to face masks than women.

Middlesex University and mental fitness app Fika have launched a nationwide study to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the emotional and physical wellbeing of higher education staff and students.

St Georges, University of London launched Coronavirus action fund

St George’s, University of London, with their focus on health and biosciences, is uniquely placed to respond to Coronavirus and make an impact on the health of populations today and in the future.

Through the St George’s Coronavirus Action Fund, they are seeking philanthropic gifts to help to develop our specialist research environment and equip our experts to respond to the current emergency and continue their work to improve health.

A research team at Middlesex University led by Professor Richard Bayford, Professor of Biophysics and Engineering, together with academic and industry collaborators are working on the development of a rapid detection test for COVID-19 that could give results within minutes.

Kings scientists lead blood plasma treatment trial

A blood plasma treatment for COVID-19 is to be tested at Guy’s and St Thomas’ as part of a landmark trial. The ‘convalescent plasma’ treatment involves blood plasma donations from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. The trial is co-led by Dr Manu Shankar-Hari, Reader and Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at King’s and consultant in intensive care medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’, along with experts from NHS Blood and Transplant and the University of Cambridge. The full story can be found here.

Kings College Symptom Tracker

Around 5,000 twins and their families across the UK have been recruited from the TwinsUK cohort study to trial the app, which tracks in real-time how the disease progresses. The aim of the app is to help slow the outbreak, by helping researchers identify:

Twins using the app will record information about their health on a daily basis, including temperature, tiredness and symptoms such as coughing, breathing problems or headaches. Any participants showing signs of COVID-19 will be sent a home testing kit to better understand what symptoms truly correspond to the coronavirus infection. Researchers believe this is clinically urgent given the current limits on testing.

St George’s, University of London, National Trial

Dr Tihana Bicanic and Dr Tom Harrison from @SGUL_III are Principal Investigators at St George’s University Hospital for a national trial of investigational treatments for COVID-19 infection. The RECOVERY trial is looking to find the optimal treatment options for the disease.

Dr Tihana Bicanic has added a new arm to her AspiFlu study to find out if patients with severe coronavirus on intensive care are likely to develop a secondary fungal lung infection called aspergillosis.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine trial led by St George’s researchers open for recruitment

@ProfSKrishna and Dr Tim Planche from ST. George’s are leading on a clinical trial to collect samples from #coronavirus patients and evaluate a new diagnostic test for the disease. The samples collected will also be used by researchers across the University to find out more about the virus.

LSHTM: Dogs could join the fight against COVID-19

Could man’s best friend play a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19? After recently collaborating to prove that our canine friends can be trained to detect malaria, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University aim to find out.

The team has begun preparations to intensively train dogs so they could be ready in six weeks to help provide a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis towards the tail end of the epidemic.

Increasing coronavirus testing is key, and the team has approached the government about how dogs can play a role in the fight against the disease.

The researchers believe that the dogs could supplement ongoing testing by screening for the virus accurately and rapidly, potentially triaging up to 250 people per hour.

Queen Mary, University of London

Queen Mary academics across all faculties have been addressing the social, political and economic challenges we’re likely to face in the aftermath of the pandemic, from educational reform to political fallout.

Royal Veterinary College: Vets working with medics to find solutions for the COVID-19 crisis

The pandemic scenario now unfolding is one partners in the One Health Poultry Hub have long feared. You didn’t need a crystal ball to have anticipated the crisis now engulfing the world, but as infectious disease experts we knew well the risks – and that the odds of getting through our five years of Hub research without a major zoonotic disease outbreak were slim.

That is not to say that we know what will happen tomorrow, let alone next week or next year but like others working in the field of infectious diseases, and in particular those with their origins in animal-to-human transmission, we were aware of the dangers.

From avian influenza to SARS to swine flu to MERS to Ebola , the past decade has witnessed one zoonotic disease outbreak after another. There is nothing new about zoonotic disease, or even pandemics. However, the rapid speed of pathogen spread is a modern phenomenon.

UCL, UCLH and Formula One develop life-saving breathing aids for the NHS

A breathing aid that can help keep Covid-19 patients out of intensive care, adapted by mechanical engineers at UCL and clinicians at UCLH working with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (Mercedes-AMG HPP), has been approved for use in the NHS.

The breathing aid, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help Covid-19 patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily, when oxygen alone is insufficient.

Since Wednesday 18th March, engineers at UCL and HPP and clinicians at UCLH have been working round the clock at UCL’s engineering hub MechSpace to reverse engineer a device that can be produced rapidly by the thousands. This has now been recommended for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

This breathing aid was produced within a rapid timeframe – it took fewer than 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device. One hundred devices are to be delivered to UCLH for clinical trials, with rapid roll-out to hospitals around the country ahead of the predicted surge in Covid-19 hospital admissions.

UCL’s virus detecting machines to bolster Covid-19 testing programme

In response to an urgent request by UK government, UCL has provided 16 sophisticated virus detecting machines, which will enable thousands more people to be tested for Covid-19.

Following the call from the Prime Minister’s Office, Professor David Lomas, Vice Provost (Health) at UCL, took an immediate decision to free up all the university’s ThermoFisher PCR (polymer chain reaction) machines. These are normally used to carry out groundbreaking research into cures for cancer, dementia and infectious diseases.

PCR machines can analyse a patient’s saliva/swab sample, and take just a few hours to detect the presence of a virus’ RNA.

On 20 March, 2020 soldiers from the Coldstream Guards picked up the hi-tech machines, which are dotted across UCL’s London campus, before taking them to the UK’s testing facility near Milton Keynes.

At Middlesex University Professor of Environmental Science at Middlesex, Lian Lundy, is co-ordinating an international initiative to develop a comparable, open-access database on the occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in sewage.

Middlesex University has launched a study examining the psychological effects of COVID-19 on people who have diabetes, inviting people who have the condition to take in a survey.

Other research has found people with the health condition are particularly vulnerable when contracting coronavirus.