Jean-Laurent Casanova, MD, PhD

Jean-Laurent Casanova, MD, PhD

The Rockefeller University

Research Project:
Autoantibodies to Interferons in Patients with Emerging Viral Pneumonia

Grant Awarded:

  • COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

Research Topics:

  • basic biologic mechanisms
  • epidemiology
  • gene expression transcription
  • immunology immunotherapy
  • public health
  • risk factors

Research Diseases:

  • COVID-19
  • influenza
  • pneumonia
  • respiratory viruses

We have demonstrated that in previously healthy individuals, some cases of severe influenza pneumonia, and more recently COVID-19, are caused by genetic defects in a type of proteins called interferons, known as the first line of host defense against viral infections. Consistently, we found that about 15% and 5% of patients critically ill with COVID-19 or influenza pneumonia, respectively, have preexisting rogue antibodies (“autoantibodies”) that block interferons, impairing their antiviral activity. These autoantibodies are commonly found in the general population, especially elderly people, making them vulnerable to influenza, COVID-19, or other respiratory viral infections. We now intend to extend our discoveries to other severe respiratory illnesses. We will search for autoantibodies in patients with severe pneumonia caused by new strains of COVID-19, including the Omnicron variant, different strains of influenza, and other respiratory viruses. Our project will provide diagnostic tools for the general populations for the ongoing and next emerging viral pneumonia, as well as specific therapeutic plans.

Page last updated: October 3, 2023

Freedom From Smoking Clinic
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Detroit, MI | May 29, 2024