Dr Caroline Li is collaborating with London NHS hospital trusts and researchers in China on a clinical trial to study the use of a rheumatoid arthritis drug in improving COVID-19 outcomes.
The project, funded by the charity LifeArc, has been granted £1.3 million to start clinical trial testing of leflunomide, a drug licensed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, in hospitalised COVID-19 patients. Caroline and the University of Kent will lead the AI part of the project to understand the underlying clinical/physiological data. The focus will be on exploring data science and developing interpretable AI models in the clinical trial to discover the potential of the repurposed drug.
Leflunomide has previously been investigated in a small pilot study conducted in Wuhan, China. Patients with moderate or severe clinical symptoms of COVID-19 who were treated with leflunomide demonstrated favourable clinical outcomes with a shorter clinical recovery time compared to the placebo arm, and no side effects were observed. This LifeArc funded study now aims to explore these initial findings in a larger patient cohort.
A detailed description of the project can be found here: https://www.lifearc.org/funding/covid-19-funding/DEFEAT-COVID-study/