Long-term protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 virus in COVID‑19 patients

Nazy, Ishac | $350,000

Ontario McMaster University 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

The current COVID‑19 pandemic is caused by a new coronavirus, named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Current tests are unable to accurately identify patients who are infected or determine the effectiveness of their immune response against the virus. They also cannot identify patients who have produced a protective immune response for combating future re-infection with SARS-CoV-2. There are many question regarding the effects this pandemic has presented our society; however, understanding if individuals are protected against the virus, after being infected, continues to be very important. In this proposal, we will identify how our bodies react to the virus by examining antibodies in the immune system and by studying the memory immune cells that produce antibodies to determine if and how long our bodies are protected against the virus in the future. We will do this by identifying which patients have developed an immune response (antibodies) and then test for their ability to eliminate the SARS-CoV-2 virus, effectively. We will also determine if recovered COVID‑19 patients develop memory immune cells capable of fighting re-infections in the future. These tests are important for many reasons, including: 1) accurately diagnose COVID‑19 patients by identifying who developed an immune response; 2) identify individuals who mounted strong antibody responses that eliminates the SARS-CoV-2 virus and 3) determine if there is immune memory against COVID‑19 that could protect against re-infection. A deeper understanding of the immune response will help fight the current COVID‑19 pandemic and better prepare us for future pandemics.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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