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09 Jun 2020

COVar_Immune: HKU-Pasteur to work with James Di Santo and Darragh Duffy at the Institut Pasteur on mucosal immunity during SARSCoV-2 infection and recovery

In the framework of the COVID-19 Task Force set by Institut Pasteur, HKU-Pasteur will collaborate with James Di Santo, Head of the Innate Immunity Unit at Institut Pasteur, and Darragh Duffy, Coordinator of the Translation Immunology Laboratory at Institut Pasteur on COVar_Immune, a new project funded by Institut Pasteur to study characterization of variable systemic and mucosal immunity during SARSCoV-2 infection and recovery.
 
Our knowledge of the kinetics, intensity and diversity of cellular and humoral immune responses following SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans is limited. Using a novel technical pipeline based on the Milieu Interieur cohort approach, they will characterize systemic as well as local mucosal immunity during and after SARS-CoV-2 infection. The overall objective will be to identify immune signatures that can distinguish clinical outcomes (recovery versus virus-induced pathologies). 
 
Details of the project:
 
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an infectious disease that primarily targets the lungs, is caused by ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2’ (SARS-CoV-2), a new virus not previously identified in humans. The immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is the primary cause of the lung pathology and associated morbidities that lead to death in a proportion of infected individuals. Nevertheless, immune responsiveness to this novel coronavirus appears quite variable in humans as indicated by reports of healthy viral ‘spreaders’ showing minimal disease. As such, characterising this variability early in infection may help to identify the patients who will clear the virus with few side effects versus those who go on to have a catastrophic pathological response. 
 
Knowledge in this arena is critical since it could lead to approaches that may reduce the amplitude and/or duration of disease-causing infections. Beyond an eventual impact on acute infection, a better understanding of the regulation of mucosal responsiveness can have a major impact on the development and implementation of future vaccine candidates as well as the regulation of systemic diseases.