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Substantial € 450,000 subsidy for UMCG research into role of overweight in COVID-19 cases

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27 August 2020

The Intensive Care Unit of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) has received a substantial subsidy of € 450,000 from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMW). The funds will be used to research why COVID-19 patients in IC wards are often more overweight than both patients who are not admitted to the IC and IC patients with other illnesses. In addition, it will be investigated as to whether the serious inflammation, including inflammation of the lungs, that COVID-19 patients may develop can be treated with the drug Resveratrol. The study is being led by Peter van der Voort, head of the Intensive Care Unit at the UMCG, and is being carried out by doctors and researchers at the UMCG together with colleagues from Amphia Hospital in Breda and Amsterdam UMC.

Recent research has shown that 77% of the COVID-19 patients who have been treated in a Dutch intensive care unit were overweight. People who are overweight have a 44% higher chance of dying from COVID-19, with the percentage rising to 80% for people who are obese. The assumption is therefore that fatty tissue, especially in the abdominal area, is the cause of the serious progression of COVID-19 in these patients.

Abdominal fat produces substances that increase inflammatory reactions, including those in the lungs. The question is whether this happens more in cases of COVID-19 than for patients with other illnesses, and how this could possibly be treated. To this end, research is being conducted into the drug Resveratrol. Blood samples and fatty tissue from COVID-19 patients and other patients are being compared and investigated in a laboratory.

The research is being carried out in three phases and will be completed within 24 months. In the meantime, the researchers hope to be able to present interim research results.