Drug trial seeks volunteers with COVID-19 symptoms


Researchers at University Hospital Southampton are looking for volunteers with COVID-19 symptoms to take part in a new trial of a potential treatment that uses the immune system to fight COVID-19.

The trial is part of the national AGILEdrug testing platform, which aims to rapidly identify therapies that have the potential to treat COVID-19 and bring them into early phase clinical trials.

The researchers hope the drug in this trial – an antibody – will not only neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus, meaning patients are less likely to be admitted to hospital with severe symptoms, but also trigger a long-lasting immune response to the virus.

Do we still need COVID-19 treatments?

With the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme helping to bring down the number of cases in the community and in hospitals, you may think there is no longer a need to develop new treatments.

However, vaccines will not eradicate COVID-19 infections entirely and the virus will continue to circulate at lower levels. We therefore still need to find treatments for those who do contract the virus to prevent them from developing the most severe symptoms.

Discovering new COVID-19 treatments faster

The trial is being run at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility as part of the AGILE drug testing platform, which enables rapid evaluation of early stage clinical trials (phase 1 and 2a) to identify promising new treatments for COVID-19.

Whereas other COVID-19 trials seek to repurpose existing drugs already prescribed for other conditions, AGILE will test completely new drugs that are not yet approved for use in patients. The innovative design of the trial means that multiple potential treatments can be evaluated in parallel, allowing important testing stages to be safely completed in months rather than years.

Treatments shown to be beneficial in AGILE will be rapidly considered for advancement into later phase clinical trial platforms, such as PRINCIPLE and RECOVERY, where the effectiveness of these treatments can be assessed in larger numbers of patients.

AGILE is led by researchers at the University of Southampton’s NIHR Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and the UK Clinical Research Facility network.

Taking part

The research team are currently looking for people with COVID-19 symptoms to take part in the trial.

To be eligible they must:

  • be aged 18-55
  • have symptoms of COVID-19 within the last 4 days
  • have not had a COVID-19 vaccine
  • not be hospitalised for COVID-19

Participants will be reimbursed for their time and travel.

For more information, please email UHS.SouthamptonCRF@nhs.net or call 07469 565 895.

Posted on Friday 9 April 2021