A UC researcher received a grant to investigate how cancer treatments could impact patients who also have COVID-19

NEWS RELEASE: Katie Pence, Assistant Director, Media Relations

CINCINNATI, OH (August 31, 2020) – UC researchers and physicians are learning that COVID-19 impacts more than just the lungs.

The list of potential issues multiplies when doctors also consider its impact on patients with other underlying conditions or the medications used to treat those conditions. 

Shuchi Gulati, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati, a UC Health oncologist and member of the UC Cancer Center, is one of the experts who is studying how treatments for patients with cancer and COVID-19 could cause other health complications, namely blood clots. She recently received a $25,000 grant from the North American Thrombosis Forum to help her investigate this problem.

“Cancer itself can increase a patient’s risk of getting thrombosis,” said Gulati. Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot within a blood vessel, and it prevents blood from flowing normally through the circulatory system. Researchers think this is because of tissue damage caused by some cancers which might trigger the blood clotting process. Now, blood clotting related to COVID-19 is emerging as a new complication related to infection. “With this study, we will attempt to understand how treatments for cancer, specifically hormonal therapy and certain immunotherapies, involving use of the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer, could impact artery and vein blood clots in patients who have also been diagnosed with COVID-19.”

Gulati and researchers involved in the study will use a database called CCC19 (for COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium), the local arm of a global consortium of cancer centers and organizations that collects data about cancer patients infected with the coronavirus. The study will be conducted over the course of one year.

“This is the largest registry-based dataset to date recording outcomes of patients with cancer and COVID-19,” Gulati said.

In May, UC joined cancer centers like Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Moffitt Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center as well as national organizations like the American Society of Clinical Oncology and more to participate in this database.

Gulati, currently in the Internal Medicine Scholarly Training for Academic Research Fellowship program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, is excited to pursue this research with hopes it could prevent complications for millions of patients.

“By completing this project,” she said, “we hope to contribute specific data regarding the thrombotic risk posed by being on specific treatments for cancer.”