Welsh scientists helping to understand how the immune system responds during coronavirus

Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and Systems Immunity Research Institute are part of a UK wide effort to identify what makes a good or bad immune response to Covid-19.

The UK Covid-19 Immunology Consortium will also look at how factors like age can influence the immune response to coronavirus.

Evidence from the pandemic has shown that the immune system can help protect people from Covid-19, but it can also cause damage in severe disease.

Professor Ian Humphreys, who leads infection research at Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity University Research Institute, said “This research will generate vast insight into the good and bad aspects of immune responses to this virus.

“This information will be really important in designing new treatment strategies for Covid-19 patients and in the race for a safe and effective vaccine.”

The UK wide consortium is supported by £6.5m funding from UKRI and the National Institute for Health Research.

Its work will help identify patients most at risk from severe disease, assist doctors in deciding treatments and aid the rapid development of vaccines and novel treatments for severe Covid-19.

Cardiff University says its scientists will lead studies to examine:

  • What constitutes a “good” immune response that protects people from severe Covid-19
  • How certain immune system related proteins can cause damage during severe Covid-19
  • How the virus might try to “dodge” the immune system during infection

Professor Awen Gallimore, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said “This is an exciting and vitally important national effort.

“We are joining the best immunologists in the country to help tackle Covid-19.

“This will enable us to gather information extremely quickly that will help us manage and reach the end of this global pandemic.”

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