Keele University Events and Conferencing assist in the preparation of Covid-19 clinical trials unit

As part of the major programme to develop antibody tests to track the level of COVID-19 infection in the community, Emma Woodcock, Head of Event and Business Development assisted in the delivery of what is normally sports event space to be transformed into a Clinical Trial Unit.

Keele University has joined a key national programme to evaluate pioneering diagnostic tests for the coronavirus which will help determine how many people have been infected with the Covid-19 virus.

Keele is supporting the second part of the programme called REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT-2), led by Imperial College London, alongside a small number of additional specialist partners. New diagnostic tests will be trialled using frontline workers in a temporary testing centre based on the Keele campus.

The study will help evaluate novel ways of detecting Covid-19 antigens and antibodies and assess how well these tests can be adapted to a home testing environment without assistance from a healthcare professional. All samples will be sent to Imperial College London for analysis.

The data generated from the study, which is due to run from mid-June, will help guide the Government’s planning on testing on a national scale.

Keele’s Clinical Trials Unit and technical staff from the Faculty of Natural Sciences are supporting the programme in collaboration with the West Midlands Clinical Research Network.

Antibodies are made by the immune system to fight infection and this programme addresses the urgent need for fast and accurate antibody tests that show whether someone has been infected with the virus which causes Covid-19. The programme will assess how easy these tests are to use, improve the testing process and compare the results of the self-antibody tests to other more established ways of testing for antibodies.

Professor Pauline Walsh, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean for the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said: “I am delighted that Keele can support this really important work. We have seen the impact of Covid-19 through our partnership working with local health and social care organisations. This study will provide crucial data to influence the future management of the disease.”

Professor Jonathan Wastling, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of Natural Sciences, said: “Rapid and accurate testing on a national scale will be an essential part of our road to recovery from Covid-19. We are delighted to be a part of this exciting work and the national effort to tackle the pandemic.”

Transforming the sports event space into the Clinical Trial Unit took 4 days and a team of 10.  Emma commented: I have worked at Keele for over 17 years and have been involved in transforming our commercial event space to host some fabulous events, however working as part of the team to deliver the Clinical Trial Unit has been exceptional.  In such unprecedented times, everyone involved went the extra mile to deliver the project on time and I feel privileged to have been a part in something so significant.  Whilst most of our commercial space remains closed for now, we are proud to be able to have the space utilised for this research and to support the wider community.”

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