Scottish respiratory expert aims to prevent the worst of Covid-19

People should prepare for a second wave of Covid-19 and expect outbreaks of equally deadly lungdiseases in the future, a University of Dundee expert has warned.

Sunday, 13th September 2020, 7:30 am
Professor James Chalmers who is warning about deadly lung diseases.

Professor James Chalmers, British Lung Foundation Professor of Respiratory Research within the University’s School of Medicine, says that developing a vaccine or new treatments for coronavirus is the “only real exit strategy,” that would allow individuals to return to their pre-lockdown lives.

He believes that the solution for the problems we are facing today and to get back to the world we had before the virus struck is to either find a new treatment or a vaccine.

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Based within Dundee’s School of Medicine, Professor Chalmers is at the forefront of the global effort to identify treatments that mat help to prevent the worst symptoms of Covid-19.

He is leading a team that is conducting trials of brensocatib, a drug being developed to treat lung inflammation in Covid-19 patients, in conjunction with global biopharmaceutical company Insmed Incorporated.

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Professor Chalmers said: “Covid-19 will not be the last coronavirus the world will face and, even if it is brought under control, we are still in the early stage of what will be a long-term fight.

“As well as tackling Covid-19, we must also prepare for a future second wave or other threats from lung infections in the future.”

He says that the medical community has never faced a more urgent need for treatment than the unprecedented situation we face today with Covid-19.

While the virus results in a mild infection in most people, up to 20 per cent of patients develop inflammation of the lungs which can require them to be ventilated.

Though Covid-19 is caused by a viral infection, research has shown that the body’s own inflammatory response, designed to clear the virus, causes lung

damage that ultimately leads to respiratory failure and death in severe cases.

As well as leading research into how Covid-19 affects the lungs, Professor Chalmers is also at the forefront of a new campaign to improve scientific knowledge of coronaviruses.

The University of Dundee’s Coronavirus Research Fundraising Campaign has been launched to help subsidise studies that will help to develop treatments for future diseases, as well as Covid-19.

Professor Chalmers, added: “This is a really extraordinary time for medical science, and we have a real opportunity working together to improve outcomes for patients in a really rapid timeframe.

“By supporting our scientists now, we can utilise their skills to help identify and produce drugs to help us tackle future coronaviruses.

"But to make progress we need funding and that is why the support of the public is absolutely crucial.”

Work done by the University of Dundee in response to the significant challenges presented by Covid-19 has been recognised as excellent and has attracted funding from the Chief Scientist’s Office, the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, amongst other key research institutes.

Further information about the University of Dundee Coronavirus Research Fundraising Campaign, including details on how to donate are available here.

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