Study Detail


Multi-centre EuRopean study of MAjor Infectious Disease Syndromes (MERMAIDS): Acute Respiratory Infections in Adults

Status: Open

Type: Observational

Funder: European Commission

Sponsor: University of Oxford

CI: Professor Peter Horby

IRAS-Number: 168492

CPMS-ID: 19790

Approval Date: 07 May 2020


The aim of this study is to find out why some people become much more ill than others when they have acute respiratory infections. More information about how different people respond to the agents that cause respiratory disease will allow us to better predict how bad the infection is likely to be and to develop treatments specific to that particular patient. This could reduce disease severity and the risk of complications and also reduce the need for hospital admission. People at general risk of developing severe disease are well known, such as the elderly, people with long term lung or heart disease or patients with a weak immune system. However, some respiratory infections can also cause severe disease in younger previously healthy people due to a combination of the virus itself and the person's immune responses. This study will recruit adults attending doctor's surgeries and also those receiving hospital and community care with mild to severe acute respiratory infection. We will analyse blood samples to observe individual gene activity (the process by which the instructions in our genes are converted into a product, such as a protein) and compare samples from people with different risk factors. This will provide detailed information on how the body responds to infection and help us to understand the effects of different risk factors. [COVID-19 amendment - 18/05/2020]


Pathogens causing acute respiratory infections (ARI) are among themost likely candidates to cause the next pandemic. We need to better understand why some people become much more ill than others when they have an ARI. It is likely that individual risk factors affect the body's response to ARI in different ways and this in turn can influence the severity of disease. Within broad risk groups it is currently not possible to predict which individuals are at increased risk of becoming severely ill. Consequently, there are no opportunities to tailor preventive and therapeutic interventions. In people who become moderately or severely ill, there is an assumption that the body's underlying response to disease is the same and hence that everyone will benefit equally from the same treatments. Increased insight into how different individuals respond to respiratory pathogens can allow us to better anticipate severity at individual patient levels. This in turn will enable us to formulate strategies for individualized treatment options to reduce disease severity, risk of complications and hospitalisations. In this study we will recruit people attending primary and secondary care in order to capture people with mild to severe ARI. We will analyse samples to observe individual gene activity and we will compare samples from people with different risk factors for more severe disease. This will provide a detailed insight into how the body responds to infection and provide opportunities to understand the specific contributions of different risk factors

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