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Covid-19: New national drug trial offers hope to Welsh kidney patients

25 Sep 2021 3 minute read
Photo by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Health & Care Research Wales have announced that Welsh kidney patients and transplant recipients are participating in a national trial aiming to prevent Covid-19 using a nasal spray.

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales said: “If successful, this nasal spray could be available to those with kidney and autoimmune diseases within months.

So far, the PROTECT-V trial has enrolled more than 300 clinically vulnerable patients with advanced kidney diseases across the UK.

The trial will test whether a drug called niclosamide could be effective at preventing Covid-19 in vulnerable patients.

The drug, currently used to treat tapeworm infection, has been re-formulated into a nasal spray and will be used twice a day.

The trial, led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Cambridge, is expected to last 15 months and is funded by LifeArc, Kidney Research UK, the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and UNION therapeutics and supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.


Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in Wales are among 24 sites across the UK currently recruiting participants in the trials.

Consultant Nephrologist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Specialty Lead for Kidney Disorders at Health and Care Research Wales, Dr Siân Griffin, said: “Patients treated with immunosuppression, transplant recipients and those on dialysis are uniquely vulnerable to Covid-19, and may remain so, despite vaccination.

“Most dialysis patients need to attend for treatment three times a week – which makes it very difficult for them to shield. Booster vaccinations will be very important and are expected to give additional protection, but new treatments to prevent infection are urgently needed.

“Hopefully this trial will show the way forward. We’ve just started recruiting participants and will continue for the next few months. If any patients would like to take part, please speak to your Kidney Consultant.”


Dr Abdulfattah Alejmi Consultant Nephrologist at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “We’re so proud to be part of this trial looking into additional treatments for dialysis and renal transplant patients, as well as those who take immune suppression medications, as they have an increased risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus.

“I look forward to see more of our patients joining this trial, as I think any possible protection against this virus outweighs the potential risk of Covid-19.”

One of the trial participants, Helen Williams from Margam, who had a transplant in 2012, has been shielding since the pandemic.

Speaking on the Health & Care Research Wales website, she said: “I’m so proud to be a participant, this research is so important and will hopefully add another layer of armour we desperately need.

“It’s so simple, I take the nasal spray twice a day and then speak to the team at Cardiff once a week to check any symptoms. I feel really safe as this drug isn’t new. The spray doesn’t affect the medication I’m on already and we will hopefully be able to see the results pretty soon.

“If we didn’t have studies like this one, I would be cooped up in my living room for the foreseeable future – so I’m happy to play my part in any way I can.”

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