Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB has joined the fight against Coronavirus by recruiting COVID-19 patients to participate in a ground-breaking new study of the disease.

The GenOMICC Study sets out to better understand why COVID-19 is life threatening for some people while others experiences only mild symptoms. Thousands of people severely ill with COVID-19, including those currently or previously in an intensive care unit, will have their genetic code studied to help scientists understand whether a person’s genetics may influence their susceptibility to the virus.

The study is being carried out by a partnership between the GenOMICC Study Consortium (led by the University of Edinburgh) and Genomics England, and aims to sequence the genomes of 20,000 people who are severely ill with COVID-19.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg’s District General Hospitals are three of the 170 NHS hospitals taking part in the study. Currently the Royal Glamorgan Hospital is in the top 20 in the UK for recruiting patients to the study.

2000 UK patients have been recruited to the GenOMICC study already.

The data collected by Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB and others will be compared to that from a further 15,000 COVID-19 patients who experienced only mild symptoms. This data will be collected from participants in the 100,000 Genomes Project and UK Biobank.

This ground-breaking research may help explain why some patients with COVID-19 experience a mild infection, others require intensive care and why for some it is fatal. By discovering why some people are predisposed to developing life-threatening symptoms, the initiative will enable novel insights into the virus, as well as possible human factors that influence the effects of the disease, and whether a combination of both shape outcomes for NHS patients.

Professor Kieran Walshe, Director of Health and Care Research Wales, said:

“It is vital that we learn as much about COVID-19 as possible so that we can provide the most effective treatments and care for all patients.

“This ground-breaking research may help us to find out why some patients experience a mild infection, while others need intensive care treatment and why some sadly die.

“Through research, we can discover the evidence needed to give all patients the best possible outcome.”

Dr Kenneth Baillie, Chief Investigator on the GenOMICC study, said: “Our genes play a role in determining who becomes desperately sick with infections like COVID-19. Understanding these genes will help us to choose treatments for clinical trials. The GenOMICC study has been running since 2016, and has been investigating genetic factors that impact how patients fare in response to a number of severe illnesses. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, and with the tremendous support of the UK critical care community, the study has expanded and accelerated enormously, and we are now recruiting in over 170 ICUs across the country. I am delighted to be working with Cwm Taf Morgannwg to deliver this important work.”

Patients who have already had COVID-19 and have now recovered are invited to volunteer to take part in the study. Register your interest here

CTM joins fight against Coronavirus in ground-breaking new study