Two women analysis blood samples in laboratory setting

Blood in Action

The Blood In Action project will work with the community and experts in infection and pregnancy to make use of thousands of blood samples provided by women during their maternity care to examine how diseases transmit from person to person.

Blood samples of pregnant women receiving NHS pregnancy care are stored for two years in case of suspected exposure to infection in the mother or baby. These samples can be tested for existing antibodies (a marker of immunity) and linked to information about age, ethnicity, and deprivation, to build a picture of the impact of infections on women, children, and the general population. They are otherwise thrown away at 2 years.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team comprising colleagues from the George Institute for Global Health, UK, Imperial College London, and the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust used these samples to map the spread of the virus in North-West London, over time and in different groups of women.

This 3-year project will extend this work aiming at improving our knowledge of infections and immunity in London, and better understand which groups or areas might be particularly vulnerable to infection and disease.

Over the project period, we will put the women who use our services at the centre of designing and carrying out the research into different infections and immunity and feed the results back to inform public health policies. In future pandemics, the platform will be ready to use in describing the pattern of infections over time, place, and in different groups of our population.

The project is funded by the Parasol Foundation as part of a research partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial Health Charity.