One of the most puzzling questions about the global COVID-19 pandemic is why individuals show such a diverse response. Some are ‘silent spreaders’ who don’t show any symptoms, whereas other COVID-19 patients require intensive care. Age and underlying health conditions are known to increase the risk of a severe response but the underlying reasons for the hyperactive immune response seen in some individuals remain unexplained.
A team of immunology experts at VIB, KU Leuven, UZ Leuven and ULB in Belgium and the Babraham Institute in the UK have come together study this diversity in COVID-19 responses. This understanding is crucial to guide the development of effective healthcare and ‘early-warning’ systems to identify and treat those at risk of a severe response.
Professor Adrian Liston (VIB-KU Leuven & The Babraham Institute), explains: “One of our main motivations for undertaking this research was to understand the complexities of the immune system response occurring in COVID-19 and identify what the hallmarks of severe illness are. We believe that the open sharing of data is key to beating this challenge and so established this data set to allow others to probe and analyse the data independently.”
Neumann, J., Prezzemolo, T., Vanderbeke, L. & Roca, C.P. et al. Increased IL-10-producing regulatory T cells are characteristic of severe cases of COVID-19. Clinical and Translational Immunology