Policy & Regulation
COVID-19 Immune Response Study Could Lead to More Effective Treatments
29 October 2020 - - A COVID-19 immune response study has revealed new findings that suggest that treatments aimed at arresting the infection at the stage of moderate severity may be most effective, the US-based non-profit biomedical research organisation Institute for Systems Biology said.

The symptoms of COVID-19 vary widely, from very mild to severe conditions requiring ICU care.

Researchers comprehensively studied a large number of patients during the week following a COVID-19 diagnosis, and found that mild COVID-19 is very distinct from the moderate or severe forms of disease, which appear surprisingly similar.

For both moderate and severe COVID-19 cases, the team found that there is a sort of tug-of-war taking place, in which inflammation is promoting a stronger immune response, yet many of the key nutrients required for building that response are depleted.

This leads to unusual and dysfunctional immune responses.

A paper describing these findings has been accepted by Cell, and appeared online TODAY. The study was led by the Institute for Systems Biology and Swedish in Seattle, with help from Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada), BARDA, and several other institutions and companies (listed below).

The research team examined serial blood draws from 139 COVID-19 patients of all severities, from patients recovering at home to critically ill patients and in the ICU.

From each blood sample, they measured thousands of proteins and metabolites to capture the environment of the circulating immune system.

They also measured thousands of genes and proteins from individual immune cells.

Finally, they utilized novel computational methods to merge all of these observations together to provide an integrated view of COVID-19 infection during the week following initial diagnosis.

The COVID-19 Immune Response Study is made up by ISB, Swedish, Merck, Stanford University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Adaptive Biotechnologies, Bloodworks Northwest, Gilead, Isoplexis, Metabolon, Nanostring, Olink, Providence Molecular Genomics Laboratory, Scisco Genetics and 10x Genomics.

Funding for this project comes from Merck and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Wilke Family Foundation, the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, the Swedish Medical Center Foundation, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Gilead, Novartis, Amazon Web Services, Omeros, the Washington State Andy Hill CARE Fund, the Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health.

Institute for Systems Biology is a collaborative and cross-disciplinary non-profit biomedical research organization based in Seattle.

Founded in 1910, Swedish, affiliated with the Providence health system, is the largest nonprofit health provider in the Greater Seattle area.

Swedish is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and a network of more than 115 primary care and specialty-care clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area.

Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research.

In 2019, Swedish provided USD 228m in community benefit programs, including USD 22m in free and discounted care in Western Washington.