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Advocate Aurora Research Institute has joined a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–sponsored natural history study learning how COVID-19 affects the outcomes of patients undergoing cancer treatment and how having cancer affects COVID-19.

Through the study, “NCI COVID-19 in cancer patients study (NCCAPS): A longitudinal natural history study,” researchers will collect blood samples, health information and medical images from participants who are being treated for cancer and have a positive COVID-19 test.

“The long-term outcomes of patients with both cancer and COVID-19 are unknown, so the results of this study could steer cancer treatment for patients who acquire the virus,” said hematologist and oncologist Michael Thompson, MD, PhD. Dr. Thompson serves as the Research Institute’s principal investigator for the study and co-principal investigator for Advocate Aurora Health’s National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), which supports national cancer clinical trials at its 30 community cancer clinics throughout Illinois and Wisconsin.

The study will rely on NCI’s Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network and National Clinical Trials Network, as well as NCORP sites, to enroll participants.

“Study researchers aim to track cancer treatment changes made due to COVID-19; evaluate the relationship between COVID-19 and different cancer outcomes within specific cancer types; assess COVID-19 antibody development, cytokine abnormalities and genetic variations associated with severe COVID-19; and create a bank of clinical data, specimens and radiological images for future research studies,” Dr. Thompson said.

To accomplish this, researchers plan to collect:

  • Data on pre-existing comorbidities, cancer type and treatment, demographics, the course and severity of participants’ COVID-19 infections, and short- and long-term outcomes;
  • Imaging scans from participants’ most recent pre-COVID-19 cancer imaging studies, imaging studies done as clinically indicated for cancer and imaging studies done as clinical indicated for COVID-19; and
  • Research specimens for the future study of related biomarkers.

“Although researchers are making relevant and potentially life-saving discoveries related to COVID-19 every day, there is still so much the medical community must learn, including how the virus interacts with other diseases, such as cancer,” said Amy Beres, PhD, director of oncology research for the Research Institute. “This study is an effort to begin collecting any information that may help scientists combat the effects of this virus as it continues to spread.”

Researchers will recruit patients who already have a previous or current cancer diagnosis and a documented positive COVID-19 test within 14 days prior to enrollment.

NCCAPS is designed to complement ongoing treatment and registry studies, including the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19) study. NCCAPS is unique in that it is collecting longitudinal data, biospecimens and images to better understand patient outcomes over time.