When the immune system fights viruses, timing is key. And this maxim may be especially true for its defense against the deadly severe form of COVID-19.

Several new studies of immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, suggest timing could be critical for a class of proteins known as interferons, which are being researched as potential treatments. These immune proteins suppress viral replication early in disease. Yet if they are active later, some scientists think they can exacerbate the harmful inflammation that forces some COVID-19 patients onto life support. Interferons are “a double-edged sword,” says immunologist Eui-Cheol Shin of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.


Comprehensive analyses of innate and adaptive immune responses during acute COVID-19 infection and convalescence



The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented public health crisis. At present, our narrow understanding of the immune system’s response to the infection limits our capacity to prevent and treat severe disease. As part of the efforts outlined in the NIAID Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research, NIAID researchers are spearheading a large, international collaboration to unveil the innate and adaptive immune responses during acute COVID-19 infection and convalescence. Each researcher will contribute their unique expertise to collectively elucidate the innate and adaptive immune response to COVID-19 infection. This synergistic coalition of researchers will work closely and share data to maximize the impact of patient samples. The overall goal is to identify immunological and virological correlates and predictors of clinical outcomes.


A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged

Earlier this summer, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee set about crunching data on more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples in an effort to better understand Covid-19. Summit is the second-fastest computer in the world, but the process — which involved analyzing 2.5 billion genetic combinations — still took more than a week.

When Summit was done, researchers analyzed the results. It was, in the words of Dr. Daniel Jacobson, lead researcher and chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge, a “eureka moment.” The computer had revealed a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. The hypothesis provides a model that explains many aspects of Covid-19, including some of its most bizarre symptoms. It also suggests 10-plus potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved. Jacobson’s group published their results in a paper in the journal eLife in early July.

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