Friday, 27 March 2020

NUI Galway Refocusing Research to Fight COVID-19

New therapies for pneumonia patients being developed Quick profiling of immune response in patients to be researched NUI Galway has begun a comprehensive review of its existing healthcare research to repurpose it to help fight the spread of COVID-19. A team of researchers at NUI Galway is examining an existing study of interventions for patients with community acquired pneumonia which is rapidly being repurposed to examine COVID-19 patients. This study is being revised and repurposed to enable healthcare professionals to offer novel emerging therapies to the sickest patients. A new working group has been established to give healthcare professionals the ability to quickly profile the immune response of severely ill patients with a view to guiding therapeutic options. The working group comprises of the University’s top academics in the fields of haematology, immunology and ID. The University’s critical care researchers are working with the Irish critical care trials group and international pandemic research consortia to develop and rapidly implement Clinical Trials in patients with COVID-19 Severe Respiratory Failure in order to test and gain access to novel therapies as they emerge. President of NUI Galway, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said “NUI Galway exists for the public good. The Irish people have answered the Government’s call to combat the spread of Covid 19, and the University is mobilising all its academic capabilities to join this global action.  While we’re also repurposing our research to combat this crisis, I’d like to pay particular tribute to our medical community, staff and student doctors and nurses who are on the frontline saving lives in our hospitals, nationally and internationally. They making a great contribution throughout the world and our impact is at its most profound through them and their commitment to others.  We are deeply grateful to them.” Vice Dean for Research at NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Professor of Anaesthesia, NUI Galway and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals Professor John Laffey added: “There are several emerging drug therapies for COVID-19, including antivirals, chloroquine and derivatives, steroids and immune modulating drugs. However, the research is at an early stage and further comparative studies are needed to determine their effectiveness before we will know what are the best therapies for COVID patients. Our research focuses on what we already know about virus induced severe respiratory failure and how we can quickly adapt it to make early and effective interventions to save the lives of thousands of people.” Healthcare students at NUI Galway are playing a vital role in the provision of healthcare- in their clinical placement and through volunteering, both in contact tracing and at various testing centres across the city.  The Inspire project, led by Professors Martin O'Halloran and John Laffey, is an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway, designed to deliver fast-to-clinic medical devices to support the COVID-19 effort. The Inspire team is composed of over 30 clinicians, medical physicists, engineers and other healthcare staff from UHG, NUI Galway and the local medtech industry.  The team have a number of development streams, addressing topics ranging from infection control to improving oxygen delivery to critically ill patients. One notable stream involves the establishment of a video-conferencing system in ICUs, to allow isolated quarantined patients keep in daily contact with their families. This work is supported by IBM, Cisco and Apple. A second project seeks to reduce the infection risk associated with high-flow oxygen delivery, supported by Tympany, Venari Medical and Endowave, amongst others. If successful, this work will reduce the current dependency on ventilators, allowing for more patients to receive life-saving oxygen therapy.   A new website called www.covidmedsupply.org has been created by NUI Galway and the University of Limerick to offer essential aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The new global platform is designed to help local organisations, such as industry, businesses, universities and labs provide available personal protective equipment. The teams in Evidence Synthesis Ireland, Cochrane Ireland and the HRB-TMRN, all based in NUI Galway are, with the help of the University Library and colleagues throughout the University and broader research community, supporting a number of prioritised COVID-19 related projects including membership of the International Cochrane COVID-19 Executive Response Team, conducting rapid updates of Cochrane systematic reviews (e.g., personal protection equipment), mapping of COVID-19 evidence and conducting a number of World Health Organisation prioritised rapid reviews of evidence. Other measures being investigated by NUI Galway researchers include; enhancing the capacity of doctors to provide respiratory support for COVID-19 patients; using data to accurately predict modelling and potential trends of the virus and preclinical studies into COVID-19. -Ends-


News Archive

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Many Students Faced with Challenges Arising from COVID-19 Emergency NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, has called for property owners to work with the University and show care and compassion to students during the COVID-19 emergency. The University has made the decision that all classes and assessments will move online for the remainder of the semester. NUI Galway has the most geographically spread student population of any university in the country and students have been encouraged to return home to their families during the COVID-19 emergency. With some unable to do so, there have been reports of current students being served with eviction notices. While new legislation will support such students, there have also been cases where some of those who have returned home have faced difficulties in leaving earlier than planned, with deposits being withheld from them. Speaking today, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said: “These are challenging times for all our community. Many students have remained in Galway at this time, by necessity. Many have returned home, also by necessity. NUI Galway is mindful of the healthcare, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on all members of our society. We commend the many landlords who have shown remarkable kindness to our students. “This is a time when we will remember what we did and how we were to our fellow human beings. In the long-term, Galway’s reputation as a welcoming, respectful place is in the interests – and to the benefit – of us all. We therefore request that property owners who have our students as tenants in their properties show care, compassion and some flexibility at this time of urgency and need.” The University’s campus accommodation remains open to students who need to remain in Galway, with arrangements in place for students to self-isolate if needed.   To keep current students up-to-date on all developments in relation to wellbeing and support, the University is hosting a series of online Q&A sessions, starting with accommodation queries. Join us on Friday, 27 March from 11am-1pm where all your accommodation questions will be answered at https://nuigalway.pubble.io/app/preview/66049 -Ends-

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Roadmap critical in the COVID-19 crisis An international conference on ‘Inclusive Ageing: The Way Ahead’, recently held in Brussels in conjunction with the European Committee of the Regions, called for governments, civil society, and researchers to commit to reducing social exclusion of older people and addressing the multiple forms of disadvantage that can take hold in later life. The Conference was co-organised by the ROSEnet European research and policy stakeholder network, AGE Platform Europe and the European Committee of the Regions, and featured an opening address by Katerina Ivanovic, Head of the, Social Affairs Unit within the DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Social Inclusion. Launching a Roadmap for reducing social exclusion amongst older people, Professor Kieran Walsh, Chair of ROSEnet and Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, said: “We must maximise the commitment of all stakeholders to engage together to combat exclusion in older age, and to advance innovations in policy and practice interventions.” “It is on this basis that we present a roadmap to reduce old-age social exclusion through research and policy. Critically, the roadmap outlines specific actions with respect to: how we should measure and monitor exclusion in later life; the sort of policy we need to reduce disadvantage in older age; and the sort of research areas that need further work. It also helps to prepare us to be responsive to new and unexpected forms of exclusion.” According to Professor Walsh, the COVID 19 outbreak has the potential to become a new source of social exclusion and disadvantage for older adults. “Older people may not only encounter significant risks to their health, but may struggle to access appropriate information on the virus due to digital exclusion. They may also experience disruption to their support and social networks because of the need for restricted face-to-face contact with others.” However, Professor Walsh also stresses: “More critically, in crises such as these where there is a strain on health systems and resources, it is very important that resource allocation does not become solely focused on those who are perceived to be healthier or, even, more ‘productive’. We need to ensure that health care access continues to be based on need, and not on arbitrary age thresholds. Otherwise, we run the risk of problematising ageing and older people, and devaluing their status as equal citizens in our communities.” Social exclusion of older people is a critical issue for public policy, today and into the future. With 101 million older people in Europe, and a projected increase in this population to 149 million by 2050 (Eurostat 2017), demographic ageing will fundamentally determine the capacity to achieve the stated goal of a ‘Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions’. The conference also stressed the importance of how an ageing-related policy must be evidence based, and rooted in the everyday lives of older people. Otherwise concerns over system effectiveness and system sustainability will very much become a reality. Funded by the COST Association, ROSEnet (Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion) aims to overcome fragmentation and critical gaps in research and policy to tackle social exclusion amongst older people in Europe. The Roadmap, along with six briefing papers on different forms of exclusion, can be accessed at http://rosenetcost.com/rosenet-briefing-paper-series/  -Ends-

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Aquila Bioscience, a pioneering Irish company, based at NUI Galway and the Irish Defence Forces have announced a collaboration with to provide Irish Defence Forces soldiers with its groundbreaking Anti-Bioagent Wipe (ABwipeTM). Aquila Bioscience and the Irish Defence Forces have been collaborating on this technology for over four years, with the Ordnance Corps actively engaged in the concept & product trials. Working with the Irish Defence Forces, the Department of Defence and the European Defence Agency Aquila Bioscience has developed a novel, safe, effective and environmentally friendly technology to decontaminate surfaces from bacterial, viral and biotoxin threats. ABwipeTM technology serves as a decontamination wipe for first-responders, healthcare workers and for civilians to significantly reduce and prevent pathogen transmission from person-to-person and therefore reducing the spread, panic and impact of the pathogen, as is the case with coronavirus COVID-19. Aquila Bioscience’s ABwipeTM contains components that bind to and decontaminate the surface, taking advantage of the virus’s own attack mechanism (in this case, carbohydrates and proteins). Because ABwipeTM contains no harmful ingredients, it can also be used on skin and sensitive mucosal areas such as eyes, nose and mouth (main portal for virus infection). Most existing decontamination solutions contain chemicals that are harmful to the skin, health of the user and to the environment. ABwipeTM technology was developed to safely and effectively decontaminate multiple bio-threat agents (including viruses), and its use will significantly reduce the spread of COVID19 and will help ensure that first responders and emergency workers are kept safe to allow them to react when called upon. Speaking today, Professor Lokesh Joshi, co-founder and director of Aquila Bioscience, and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway said: “The concept for this technology was driven by the Irish Defence Forces and an identified capability need in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) protection measures. The innovative concept resulted in European Defence Agency supported research & development by Aquila Bioscience at NUI Galway and is just now ready for mass manufacture and could be a valuable technology in the fight against the Coronavirus. This unprecedented situation requires unprecedented measures and the DF have committed to the purchase of a consignment of the AB wipes for troop force protection measures.” At this time of global urgency and unknown impact on human lives and economy because of the COVID- 19 pandemic, ABwipeTM will serve as an essential tool in the arsenal against coronavirus to stem its spread and to save lives. For more details see www.aquilabioscience.com or contact info@aquilabioscience.com -Ends-


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