Lowcountry Headlines

Lowcountry Headlines


MUSC launching new COVID-19 study on frontline healthcare workers

ByLive 5 Web Staff | April 17, 2020 at 6:28 AM EDT - Updated April 17 at 7:26 AM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Researchers at MUSC are now looking to their own colleagues in the hopes of learning more about the coronavirus epidemic.

A team of researchers at MUSC is starting a new test to try to get a better understanding of the COVID-19 virus and how we can fight it more effectively.

This week they are starting a new study involving the hospital’s frontline workers.

Infectious Disease physician Dr. Eric Meissner is the principal investigator in the study.

“We’re eager to learn as much as we can, through as many different approaches as possible, to help us learn more about this epidemic,” Meissner said. “We’re particularly interested in sort of understanding the impact of this epidemic on our healthcare workforce.”

Researchers from the MUSC College of Medicine and the COVID research fund are starting this new research study to understand the exposure and immune response of frontline healthcare workers at MUSC.

The research teams says this is still the very early stages of this testing and they hope to find out which tests are the most reliable and least and most sensitive.

The hope is to enroll up to 440 staff members, 340 of whom either work in emergency medicine or at the West Ashley specimen collection site or those who might have provided care to a patient who was infected. The other 100 will be employees who are not involved in direct patient care.

The MUSC research team wants to make it clear that this study is not measuring the virus itself, but rather the body’s response to being exposed to the infection.

“The overall intent of this, of the entire sort of world of serologic testing, is to the best of our ability, understand who has been infected in the past and fought it off," Meissner said. "If we do have a good test to determine this, this can really help us think about the subsequent risks for individuals if they were in a situation that they were to exposed to in the future.”

The study will use a serologic test, which is a blood-based test, that can be used to suggest whether people have been exposed to a particular pathogen by looking at their immune response.

The enrollees will be mailed a kit that allows them to prick their finger, draw blood, and then mix it with a reagent and apply it to a test strip.

They will then use their cellphones to take pictures of their results and upload them to a secure site.

Researchers also noted that this is not a quantitative kit. it will simply tell results with a plus or minus.

MUSC says participants will do this same type of finger prick over the next few months. Researchers will observe the data in real-time, to see how numbers change.

They are hopeful this test will bring a greater understanding of the virus and how to better combat it.

The MUSC team opened this trial on Monday and says they expect the first tests to be taken by the end of this week.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Photo: Live 5 News

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