Very little is understood about how the SARS-CoV-2 virus develops into COVID-19 disease. If we can understand this, then we can design effective therapies and vaccines that will protect people from severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.
By studying people that have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 we can examine how their body was able to effectively fight the virus and not develop severe COVID-19 illness, or alternatively, what part of the immune response they were missing that resulted in the development of severe disease.
We have established a cohort called COSIN (Coronavirus Outbreak Samples in NSW) that will be recruiting patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 from several major hospitals in NSW. We will be collecting blood from infected patients and studying their immune response to try and understand why only some people develop severe disease, how the virus causes disease and what type of immune response we want to induce with a vaccine to protect people against severe disease. The patients' blood samples will also be valuable sources of antibodies that we can use to develop new diagnostic tests and new therapies.
With the establishment of this cohort we will enable a large collaborative network of Australian researchers to come together and study different aspects of the immune response to hopefully answer many of the unknown questions related to COVID-19. With strong links to Industry it is also hoped that many of these findings will directly result in translatable outcomes with the development of new treatment and vaccine approaches.
- Adam Bartlett
- William Rawlinson