About this event

  • Date and time Wed 20 May 2020 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm
  • Location Online
  • Organised by Rheumatology and Rehabilitation

Recently rheumatologists have been surprised by the presentations and potential parallels with autoimmune diseases and systemic sclerosis (SSc).  Professor Denton, a global expert in systematic sclerosis, has been working on the frontline in COVID-19 care at the Royal Free Hospital in London, and will be questioned by Dr Stephanie Kaye-Barrett, Consultant Physician and Rheumatologist, about the parallel aspects of autoimmune diseases, systemic sclerosis and COVID-19. 

So far, Professor Denton has found the following:

”There does seem to be some parallels with severe SSc in subsets of patients that have an IL6 driven inflammation with pneumonitis and myocarditis.  This may fit with the classical “biphasic” subset of COVID that has upper respiratory symptoms for 5-7days, malaise/myalgia 5-7days then lower respiratory symptoms and can evolve into hyper-inflammation (and often is the point of hospitalisation with oxygen dependence).  This is also the subset that may respond to tocilizumab (from Chinese experience) – Recovery trial and Roche trial in progress.   By analogy, we have now shown in 2 trials in early active dcSSc (with Roche) that lung and heart complications are very much reduced by tocilizumab and the link between IL6 and early fibrosis is strong in SSc.  Our data suggest that there is a subset of early dcSSc where IL6 drives early progressive lung and heart decline.” 

  ”However there are other relevant subgroups and I would also highlight those with less parenchymal lung disease (on imaging) and more hypoxia that would fit with acute pulmonary vasculopathy/microvascular disease. There is speculation this could involve intravascular thrombosis.  Active discussion with our PH colleagues about pulmonary vasodilators and anticoagulants – including LMWH.  Some literature to support this as well (from China).”  

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Disclaimer: All views expressed in this webinar are of the speakers themselves and not of the RSM.


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Key speakers

Chris Denton

Professor Christopher Denton PhD FRCP

Royal Free Hospital and UCL Division of Medicine, London, UK

Speaker's biography

Professor Denton studied medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London and obtained a PhD in cell biology from University College London (UCL) then trained in medicine and rheumatology in London. Following a Wellcome Trust Advanced Fellowship in molecular genetics at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (USA). He was an Arthritis Research UK Senior Research Fellow 2000-2010. He is Professor of Experimental Rheumatology at UCL and a consultant Rheumatologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He has published extensively on laboratory and clinical aspects of connective tissue disease.

Professor Christopher Denton PhD FRCP

He leads a large clinical and translational research programme in scleroderma at the Royal Free Hospital and co-ordinates multidisciplinary care for more than 1700 patients. He currently chairs the UK Scleroderma Study Group (UKSSG) and is the Arthritis Research UK Research Advisory Group (RAG) Lead for Autoimmune Connective Tissue Diseases. He delivered the Heberden Round at the annual BSR Rheumatology Conference in 2017.

Stephanie Kaye-Barrett

Dr Stephanie Kaye-Barrett MD, FRCP

Consultant Physician and Rheumatologist, and Medical Director at the Chelsea Rheumatology Clinic

Speaker's biography

Dr Stephanie Kaye-Barrett is a rheumatologist consultant, specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatological disorders. Her medical research and MD thesis, includes systemic sclerosis and the small intestine at Royal Free Hospital.


She is currently Medical Director at the Chelsea Rheumatology Clinic. Prior to this she was the clinical lead rheumatologist at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for eight years.


Stephanie has sat on various governance and leadership committees at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and played a major part in teaching in her role as Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College.


Her current project, with the Royal College of Physicians, is to provide rheumatology training for physicians working in developing countries, in collaboration with the Royal Society of Medicine.



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