Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) and the NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Centre, with the University of Leeds, have this week launched a new COVID-19 research study supported by Leeds Hospitals Charity.

The STRIKE study led by Dr Francesco Del Galdo in patients with systemic sclerosis, and the CONVAS study led by Dr Ed Vital in patients with lupus, have shown that the body’s immune response affects how these diseases progress. In patients with systemic sclerosis and lupus the “type I IFN” immune response causes inflammation that damages joints, skin and other organs. The type I IFNs are cytokines, or chemicals, which regulate immune responses including those to viruses.

As part of the above studies, Leeds Hospitals Charity has funded a £10,000 BioBank to store blood samples from patients with systemic sclerosis or lupus who have tested positive for COVID-19. This additional arm to both studies allows the trust to look at whether those with a high IFN response experience worse COVID-19 symptoms.

Helping us understand Covid-19

Director of Operations, LTHT Research and Innovation, Dr Christopher Herbert said: “This research is key to understanding why some people are affected more badly by COVID-19 than others.”

 “Research like this can also help us understand how COVID-19 can affect pre-existing medical conditions such as systemic sclerosis and lupus. This research would not have happened without the support of Leeds Hospitals Charity and we would like to thank supporters for donating to the Trust’s charity.”

The funding was supported through two generous corporate donations; £3200 from technology firm Big Change and £3200 from property company Town Centre Securities (TCS).

Martin Port from Big Change said “The BigChange Team are delighted to support Leeds Hospitals Charity which is a wonderful charity. We have now included Leeds Hospitals Charity as one our main CSR charity partners going forward. We are thankful that we have Leeds Hospitals Charity and we acknowledge all the great work they are doing with the NHS to help save lives.  We hope our small contribution can help towards making a big change.”

Edward Ziff, Chairman of TCS said “TCS are delighted to be supporting this research, right here in Leeds. As a local business we’re very proud to be standing alongside our frontline NHS workers in the fight against Covid-19. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of this important study.”

Leeds Hospitals Charity Chief Executive Esther Wakeman said “Funding research is one of our main priorities at Leeds Hospitals Charity. We’re extremely proud to be able to support this important study into the impact of Covid-19 and are very grateful to the generous donors who’ve made it possible.”