Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

You are here: Home > About us > News and events > LifeArc boosts COVID research funding by £1.37m

LifeArc boosts COVID research funding by £1.37m

29 May 2020

The PIONEER clinical trial, launched to test treatments for COVID-19, has received a funding booster of nearly £1.37 m of £10 m awarded globally by medical research charity LifeArc. The trial is underway at Chelsea and Westminster/West Middlesex University Hospital.

The PIONEER clinical trial, launched to test treatments for COVID-19, has received a funding booster of nearly £1.37 m of £10 m awarded globally by medical research charity LifeArc. The randomised trial is currently underway at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital, to test existing drugs in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. Following a competitive pitch by 130 organisations globally, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, together with Imperial College were among the 15 chosen to receive funding.

Chief investigator of PIONEER Prof Pallav Shah is to receive the funding, which has been earmarked for scientific research to investigate the effects of the trial drugs on patients.  

The PIONEER study, financed with funds raised by CW+, the official charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, was launched on May 1 this year, with recruitment of the first patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. The randomised study consists of three arms:  Japanese antiviral drug favipiravir; a combination treatment comprising hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc; vs standard of care.  All are medications which have already been used successfully in other indications.

Several patients with Coronavirus at both Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital are currently undergoing treatment, which is hoped to prevent possible deterioration and disease progression.   

“The LifeArc grant makes it possible to conduct this trial looking at the treatment strategy using the novel Japanese antiviral drug favipiravir, and also to study in a more robust manner the effects of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc, in these patients with Coronavirus infections,” said Prof Pallav Shah, PIONEER principal investigator and recipient of the grant.

“It (the grant) also gives us an amazing opportunity to try and evaluate the effects of the virus on patients, and also related to the patients’ profile, than would have been possible previously (without the grant). We can use very modern techniques, such as single-cell sequencing, to try and understand the response to treatment, and the best way of treating the infection.”

Around £750,000 will be allocated to researching the science around the trial at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, with the remaining £620,000 to be injected into research at Imperial College.

LifeArc chose organisations conducting or about to conduct trials involving medicines that are approved for use in other indications, or those in late-stage development with known mechanism of action. This re-purposing approach, where the drug is known to have a target that could be relevant to COVID-19 patients, has a high chance of identifying a treatment in a shorter time than either vaccines or new medicines can be developed.

Press office

In-hours (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm)

Communications team
T: 020 3315 6828
E:

Out-of-hours 

We are contactable for urgent, time-sensitive media enquiries. In the first instance, please text or email, then call.

Communications team
M: 07775 016 333‬
E:

Please note: The Lakeside Mental Health Unit is run by West London Mental Health Trust—for media enquiries relating to the unit please call 020 8354 8737.