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Researchers from the Medical Research Council Molecular Haematology Unit are working hard to understand coronavirus infection and help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Here you can find out more about our research.

Digital graphic of red blood cells

Evaluating blood cell-related biomarkers 

A study led by researchers from the MRC WIMM, MRC MHU and BRC Haematology Theme will evaluate blood cell-related biomarkers that predict adverse outcome in COVID-19 infection. The team will collect samples and clinical data from 100 patients admitted to Oxford University Hospitals ICU and Haematology services to identify markers that predict adverse outcomes associated with COVID-19, and potentially identify new treatment targets.

Abnormal blood clotting is common in patients with severe disease, and the researchers will focus on the roles and interactions between inflammatory myeloid cells, the coagulation system, platelets and endothelial cells, which are all activated either directly or indirectly by the virus. 

This work will bring together the skills and resources of several labs in the MRC MHU (Paresh Vyas, Adam Mead, Beth Psaila), Nikki Curry and Susie Shapiro, both haematology consultant specialists in haemostasis and thrombosis, the MRC HIU (Ling-Pei Ho) and the wider Oxford research community.

Developing large-scale COVID 19 screening technologies.

Large-scale screening for individuals who are infected with the COVID-19 virus will be critical to the long term management of the pandemic. Groups in the MRC MHU led by Professors Jim HughesJames Davies and Adam Mead are expert in the development, use and analysis of next-generation sequencing (NGS) based assays. They are working on the development of a new faster and larger screening platform that will help identify infected individuals in the population. Although not traditionally specialists in infectious disease they have turned their expertise to the development of these massively scalable approaches and the necessary computational tools to detect the presence of the COVID-19 viral genome.

This work has been developed in conjunction with their industrial partner Nucleome Therapeutics, an Oxford University spinout co-founded by them, to help develop, scale and validate the assay. Their aim is to provide a practical solution to the critical need for large-scale screening in the immediate and long term future.