Cardiff University will contribute in several ways to help understand the role that the immune system plays in SARS-CoV-2 infection. Firstly, using cutting-edge analysis of immune cells called T cells that can help control virus infections, scientists will study people that either do well or badly during COVID-19 to define what constitutes good T cell responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This work will help identify patients most at risk from severe disease and aid the rapid development of vaccines.
We will also study how the immune system can cause damage during COVID-19. The complement system is a collection of immune proteins that help protect our bodies from certain infections with germs such as bacteria. However, there is evidence that the same proteins can cause lung damage during severe COVID-19. We will examine how the complement system is mobilised during COVID-19 and how it contributes to disease. This work could reveal potential targets for anti-complement therapy to treat severe COVID-19.
To survive, viruses need to evade the persons’ immune system and we will systematically investigate how the SARS-CoV-2 virus does this. This is crucial to our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease. It has the potential to contribute to predictions of clinical outcome as well as identification of therapeutic targets that would boost recognition of the virus by the immune system. This may also reveal which parts of the virus should be disabled in strategies aimed at developing more powerful but safer vaccines designed to protect people from SARS-CoV-2.