British startup Closed Loop Medicine (CLM), a therapeutics and healthtech startup, has secured an approx. €275K COVID-19 Innovate UK Continuity Funding award to support its ongoing clinical research programme previously secured through the Innovate UK Precision Medicine Accelerator.
Founded in 2017, Closed Loop Medicine were awarded the Innovate UK Precision Medicine Accelerator in 2019 to develop a precision drug and digital therapy package for patients with high blood pressure, with the next stage of the project being to enter into clinical studies in April this year. The study is being run in partnership with the William Harvey Clinical Research Centre (WHCRC), Queen Mary University of London part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Barts (BRC).
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a nationwide pause and review of clinical trials and as such CLM’s study was placed on hold as the pandemic broke out. During the early stages of the pandemic research highlighted the potential for a link between COVID-19 mortality and high blood pressure. This has now been reinforced through a recent Nature publication led by Ben Goldacre and Liam Smeeth, that analysed 17 million medical records to show that there is a link between COVID-19 mortality and patients with high blood pressure. The paper calls for more research on this connection.
Dr David Collier, the lead investigator and clinical trial experts from Queen Mary, modified the trial so that there are no in-hospital visits and for all clinical interaction to occur remotely ensuring volunteer safety during the pandemic. David commented that “This was only possible because of our close partnership with CLM. We already knew their dedication to working with our existing patients to develop a truly useable digital app. But in lockdown the CLM development team worked tirelessly to enable COVID-19 symptom tracking in addition to the existing hypertension monitoring features of the App”. The new trial for the COVID-19 setting is longer, requires far more patient volunteers, as well as increased costs for the delivery of the study.
The PERSONAL-COVIDBP study will bring personalized treatment of blood pressure to a thousand patients in their homes, testing ways of adding carefully tuned medication to those who need better blood pressure control, even during lockdown or restricted movement. The longer-term goal is to improve blood pressure control, to be able to do this medication adjustments need to be responsive to patient symptoms, saving thousands of lives through fewer heart attacks and strokes. Recent research has indicated that better outcomes can be achieved by lowering blood pressure even more than that currently recommended by health providers.
Dr Felicity Sartain, COO and co-founder said: “It was critical to us to work closely with David, his team at the Barts Cardiovascular Clinical Trials Unit and patients to ensure we developed a new trial that was safe and would benefit patients during the pandemic.”
Dr Hakim Yadi OBE, CEO and co-founder commented: “We are very grateful to Innovate UK and UK Government in recognizing the impact COVID-19 has had on important projects like this. We’re looking forward to working with Innovate UK and our collaborators at QMUL on this critical study. We hope to be able to add new research to the analysis on the link between COVID-19 and high blood pressure.”