The IRCM post-COVID-19 (IPCO) research clinic opened its doors last Friday. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the IRCM has put in place this new research clinic aimed at studying the after effects of COVID-19 on patients diagnosed with the disease. The multidisciplinary team led by IRCM researcher and infectious disease specialist Emilia Liana Falcone will examine the long-term complications associated with the virus in COVID-19 survivors.
“While most of the research conducted since the start of the pandemic has focused on treatments and the immediate impact of the infection, we wanted to get a better grasp on the disease as a whole,” explains Dr. Falcone, “Our aim with the IPCO research clinic is to evaluate our patients’ health following infection, to better understand COVID-19 and to help them manage lingering symptoms.”
Patients enrolled in the IPCO research clinic will be followed over the course of one year and will have access to a series of tests to allow for a thorough study of the possible effects of the disease and early detection of anomalies. Results will help tackle fundamental questions tied to the current pandemic and ensure a more rapid response to future ones.
“Are survivors protected against re-infection or are they still at risk of recurrence? Do patients with certain medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and inherited immune defects present a higher risk for severe complications? What are the symptoms patients experience in the months following a diagnosis, and can these be prevented or treated? Is there any connection between disease severity in the acute phase of the infection and long-term complications? These are the types of questions we want to address to help better understand the virus and inform clinical decision-making in the long-run,” explains Dr. Falcone.
It is still unclear what causes certain symptoms to linger amongst “long-hauler patients”. Commonly-experienced symptoms include intense fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, headaches, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and others. “There is still so much we do not know about COVID-19 and what causes certain patients to experience long-term symptoms which can have serious effects on their daily lives, months after diagnosis. This can be very distressing as people expect to get back to their old selves again but are unable to due to an unexplained illness or what some might call an “invisible disability,” concludes Dr. Falcone, who is also Assistant Clinical Professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Medicine.
In addition to studying effects on patients, the IPCO research clinic aims to establish a biobank of clinical samples from COVID-19 survivors to encourage collaborations and help answer some of these pressing questions more efficiently.
The IPCO research clinic is part of the IRCM Clinic, a reference center combining specialized clinical care and medical research associated with the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). The IRCM Clinic’s model is based on a multidisciplinary approach where specialists work hand-in-hand with nurses, nutritionists, kinesiologists and clinical research teams to treat patients and help bridge the gap between the research conducted within the Institute’s laboratories and patient care. “The IPCO research clinic is perfectly suited to the overall mission of the IRCM Clinic in which we combine clinical care with research questions. When Dr. Falcone came to us with her project, it was an obvious natural fit,” explains Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, IRCM Vice President, Clinic and Clinical Research, “We hope to learn more about COVID-19 through the research we will conduct as well as help patients who currently have nowhere else to turn for help in managing their symptoms.”
The IRCM Post-COVID-19 research clinic receives support from le Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, le Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation and le Fonds de recherche du Québec – santé (FRQS). For more information
For additional details on the IRCM Post-COVID-19 research clinic and to enroll in the study: https://ircm.qc.ca/en/covid
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