Media ReleaseMinderoo Foundation29 May 2020

Minderoo Foundation commits $2 million to expand global COVID-19 trial

Minderoo Foundation has committed $2 million to bolster an Australian-based global clinical trial focusing on critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Steve-Burnell-and-Steve-Webb
Monash University’s Professor Steve Webb and Minderoo Foundation’s Dr Steve Burnell at St John of God Hospital in Subiaco, one of the WA sites of the REMAP-CAP trial. Photo Credit: Eliza Rogers.

Minderoo Foundation has committed $2 million to bolster an Australian-based global clinical trial focusing on critically ill COVID-19 patients.

The REMAP-CAP trial, led by Monash University, allows physicians access to clinical research and experimental therapeutics, to guide the treatment of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Minderoo Foundation’s commitment will bolster the trial across Australia and support participation in low- and middle-income countries, with possible locations including India, Pakistan, Nepal and Brazil. This funding will give patients access to breakthrough therapies, and help researchers understand the spread of the pandemic through developing countries.

Dr Steve Burnell, executive director of Minderoo Foundation’s COVID-19 response, said supporting clinical trials such as REMAP-CAP was a key component of the Foundation’s efforts to combat the virus.

‘’This trial has the potential to be a game-changer in the fight against COVID-19,” Dr Burnell said.

“REMAP-CAP’s unique design, international focus and ability to evaluate multiple experimental treatment arms in parallel, will save lives.

“The trial enables researchers to collaborate and share information quickly and efficiently, to identify the most effective treatment options for patients.

“Australia is fortunate to currently have so few critically ill COVID-19 patients. We’re focusing our efforts on expanding REMAP-CAP into countries which are in a different situation and where many patients will benefit immediately from this trial.”

REMAP-CAP was established in 2015 and allows researchers to rapidly collect and analyse results from various pneumonia treatments. In the wake of the current pandemic, the trial has pivoted to focus on patients battling COVID-19 in intensive care.

Patients are randomised and provided with a range of therapies including antibiotics, antiviral medications, steroid treatments, organ support and immune therapies, while researchers work rapidly to determine the most effective combination regimens. The aim is to quickly measure the impact these combinations have on patient outcomes and predict which treatments will be most effective in the fight against COVID-19.

Intensive care clinician, and the trial’s primary investigator Professor Steve Webb of Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, believes REMAP-CAP will ensure more COVID-19 patients get the best possible treatment.

“REMAP-CAP is specifically designed for virus outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic – to rapidly expand the number of participating trial sites and relevant research questions,” Professor Webb said.

Professor Webb said several components of the trial made it unique, including the large number of treatments evaluated simultaneously. 

“We also use the trial information to ensure new patients in the trial are more likely to receive effective treatments. The trial uses new statistical methods to reduce the time required to answer questions, importantly, we can also rule out less effective or poorly tolerated medications rapidly.”

“It is randomised, not an observational study, so the results will be reliable and available immediately to inform future treatment strategies,” Professor Webb said.

REMAP-CAP was one of three COVID-19 trials endorsed by the UK National Health Service earlier this year. Currently 439 patients are enrolled in the COVID-19 component of REMAP-CAP, and the trial is running at 179 hospitals in 15 countries around the world. The trial is testing 15 different treatments currently with an additional four treatments to be added.

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with eight key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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