Funding boost to Covid-19 immune research
Immunologists have received a multimillion poundfunding boost to research the role of the immune system in Covid-19.
Researchers will investigate how long immunity lasts and why some patients’ immune responses to the virus lead to lung damage.
Edinburgh scientists say this new funding could help accelerate the quest for treatments and the search for a vaccine.
The funding comes from the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC), a major initiative set-up to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
The £8.4 million Consortium – launched by UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research – brings together 17 UK research institutes to investigate vital aspects of disease immunity, including why the disease affects some people worse than others.
Dr Kenneth Baillie, from the Roslin Institute, will work with collaborators to analyse immunity data in people hospitalised because of Covid-19 symptoms.
Professor Sarah Walmsley, from the Centre for Inflammation Research, will research the role of immune systems in determining susceptibility to the virus and how it varies as people age.
A third study – led by Dr Christopher Lucas from the Centre for Inflammation Research – will investigate the key features of fatal Covid-19 cases and the impact the virus has on lungs and other vital organs.
UK-CIC will use resources from ongoing UK studies, including ISARIC-4C, which is following more than 75,000 people hospitalised with Covid-19, and GenOMICC, a study to sequence the genomes of people with the disease, led by Dr Kenneth Baillie.
We have learned so much from Covid-19 patients during the past six months. However, there is only so much that we can learn from clinical examinations and blood tests. By having a deeper look at those who have died from Covid-19 through post-mortem examination, we will increase our understanding of what is happening to the body in the most severe cases of this disease. Critically, this will allow us to rapidly answer key clinical questions and help inform the care of patients and the development of new treatments.