Achoo! SLU Compares Virus’ Effect on Sick Seniors, Healthy Adults
Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development Scrutinizes Coronavirus
ST. LOUIS -- Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development researchers in association with VA Medical Research are comparing how a virus that causes illnesses like the common cold, influenza and pneumonia affects older adults who have a chronic health condition and healthy young adults.
|Geoffrey Gorse, M.D.|
The coronavirus causes illnesses and infections in the nose, throat and lungs and may be mild to severe. Not enough is known about the viruses, said Geoffrey Gorse, M.D., principal investigator of the comparative prospective clinical research trial.
"New coronaviruses have been found to cause illnesses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in adults in recent years. We haven't extensively studied how many infections new coronaviruses and previously known coronaviruses cause," said Gorse, who also is a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Saint Louis University.
Researchers hope to find out when and how often during the year coronaviruses cause infection, and how serious the illnesses are. They will examine whether those with sicknesses caused by coronaviruses take more medicine and seek more medical care than those whose sicknesses are not caused by coronaviruses, Gorse added.
They will compare two groups of study volunteers - up to 500 who are at least 60 years old with known heart and/or lung disease and up to 500 who are healthy and between 18 and 40 years old.
Study participants will be seen by a medical professional for a "study visit" at the Center for Vaccine Development or the VA Medical Center any time they develop fever and any two or three symptoms of illness, such as cough, shortness of breath, phlegm, chills, headache, sore throat, runny nose, tiredness and muscle and joint aches and pains.
During the initial illness study visit, blood, nasal wash and nose and throat swab specimens will be collected. A follow up visit to the study clinic will be conducted three to five weeks after the initial illness visit. Specimens will be tested in a research lab for coronaviruses, other viruses that could cause the illness and antibodies to the viruses.
In addition, participants will share information about their use of health care resources, such as visits to a doctor and the emergency room, medicines and admissions to the hospital. The process will be repeated every time the participant develops fever and symptoms of similar illnesses during the two-year study period.
"We need to know more about the symptoms and severity of illnesses associated with coronaviruses in older patients who have chronic lung and heart disease, and whether these patients seek medical care," Gorse said.
"Patients who have heart and lung diseases possibly are at risk to become sicker from a coronavirus and these infections could make heart and lung diseases worse for a while. Our research seeks to answer important questions about infections linked to coronaviruses."
Those participating in the investigational study will be compensated for their time. The research is sponsored by VA Medical Research.
Established in 1836, the School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, aging and brain disease, cancer and heart/lung disease. The school's department of internal medicine celebrates its centennial in 2011.
For more information about the study, contact the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development at firstname.lastname@example.org and (314) 977-6333.