Critical care infection trial progress

01 December 2012

Work is progressing well on a trial in the QEHB critical care looking at the prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV), a potentially important viral infection in critically ill patients.

The critical care research team set up the 4Cs trial nine months ago with Department of Health funding.

The large size of the QEHB’s critical care facilities and the hard work of the research and clinical staff has made it possible recruit two patients per week.

CMV is a common and usually harmless virus from the herpes family.

In common with other herpes viruses, once contracted, these viruses remain in the body, generally causing no serious problems.

However, if the immune system is not functioning normally, as is common in critical illness, the virus can flare up.

For critically ill patients, this could be potentially extremely serious.

Prof Julian Bion

Prof Julian Bion

The trial is led by Professor of Intensive Care Medicine Julian Bion, his research registrar Dr Nick Cowley and Critical Care Sisters Joanne Millar and Sarah Park.

They are collaborating closely with consultant haematologist Professor Paul Moss and virology consultant Dr Husam Osman.

The team is using an antibody test to establish which patients have had past exposure to the virus.

Patients receiving an extra anti-viral medication to stop CMV flaring up are compared with those receiving standard critical care therapies.

“Recurrence can cause serious problems for a critically ill patient and we want to find out if the prophylactic use of anti-virals can help stop this happening,” Professor Bion said.

“We hope that, if this trial is successful, then we can develop a large, multi-centre trial to further develop what we know about this type of treatment”.

Critical care research sister, Sarah Park said, “Recruiting patients for studies in critical care can be challenging, particularly when having to approach relatives at a highly emotional time.”

If successful, the research could provide the basis for new ways of preventing this virus from causing further serious, long-term health problems for patients who are already critically ill.