The effects of COVID-19 on the immune cells of people with rheumatoid arthritis treated with anti-TNF therapy.
Disease - COVID-19, rheumatoid arthritis
Lead applicant - Professor Michael Ehrenstein
Organisation - University College London
Type of grant - Special Strategic Award
Status of grant - Active
Amount of the original award - £38,476.00
Start date - 01 October 2020
Reference - 22630
What are the aims of this research?
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health care crisis. It remains unclear whether people with rheumatoid arthritis treated with anti-TNF therapy are more or less at risk of COVID-19 and its complications. This research aims to understand the effects of COVID-19 on the immune cells of people with rheumatoid arthritis treated with anti-TNF therapy.
Why is this research important?
As well as blocking the TNF protein, anti-TNF treatment also affects a group of immune cells known as regulatory T cells. The same immune cells play a role in inflammation in COVID-19, and therefore anti-TNF treatment may influence the inflammation observed in COVID-19.
Researchers will study regulatory T cells in people with rheumatoid arthritis receiving anti-TNF therapy during and after infection with COVID-19, compared to people who do not receive anti-TNF. This data will help discover whether anti-TNF treatment causes changes to immune cells and therefore alters the inflammation seen in people with COVID-19. This will help us to understand whether anti-TNF treatment helps to protect from inflammation during infection with COVID-19, and whether COVID-19 may have implications for ongoing treatment with anti-TNF.
How will the findings benefit patients?
People with arthritis have highlighted their concerns about COVID-19, and how this might affect them, their arthritis and the treatment they are receiving. This research hopes to provide insights into the effects of anti-TNF upon immune cells, and how anti-TNF might influence the outcome of COVID-19 infection in people with rheumatoid arthritis, including any long-term effects.