Research at UCL will focus on the long-term protection following COVID-19 provided by memory T cells, that are able to coordinate immune responses to help antibody development as well as directly clearing infected cells.
Professor Mala Maini will coordinate a theme bringing researchers from several centres together to focus on the role of cross-reactive T cells in COVID-19. This theme will ask whether pre-existing T cell immunity to closely related coronaviruses (that cause the common cold) can influence the highly variable outcome of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in different age-groups and geographic regions.
Professor Stauss and Professor Chain from UCL will identify the receptors of T cells that can selectively recognise and clear infected cells in COVID-19. They will also explore whether the identified receptors can be used for gene therapy of COVID-19 by re-programming a large number of immune cells to attack infected cells.