Collaborative UK study to research vaccine responses in impaired immune systems

A new study funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) will investigate immune response to COVID-19 vaccinations in those with immunosuppressed conditions.

The OCTAVE trial is a collaboration involving researchers and groups from a number of UK institutions and universities. These include the universities of Glasgow, Birmingham, Oxford and Liverpool, as well as Imperial College London and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

According to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the study will look at the effectiveness of vaccines currently being used in the UK, in up to 5,000 people. It will focus on ‘clinically at-risk’ patient groups, including those with cancer and other chronic underlying conditions such as inflammatory arthritis, kidney or liver disease, and stem cell transplant patients.

The aim is to confirm whether the vaccines ‘work well’ on people with those conditions and if they ‘obtain optimal protection’, as well as to help discover how best to vaccinate and protect such patients in the future.

Research will involve using ‘state-of-the-art immune tests’ taken before and/or after vaccination to measure immune response.

Recruitment for participants from the national vaccination programme has already begun and results will be compared against control groups of otherwise healthy people without underlying conditions.

The University of Glasgow’s Professor Iain McInnes, OCTAVE study lead, is quoted by UKRI as saying: “We urgently need to understand if patient populations with chronic conditions such as cancer, inflammatory arthritis and kidney and liver disease are likely to be well-protected by current COVID-19 vaccines.

“The OCTAVE study will give us invaluable new data to help us answer questions of this kind from our patients and their families.”

Sponsored by the University of Birmingham, the study is being run by its Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU).

For more information about the trial, visit UKRI.org.