Research Project: Identifying Cause of Immune Suppression in COVID-19 Patients
COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award
Prolonged hospitalization, longstanding breathing difficulties, and a high death rate are common hallmarks of severe COVID-19 disease, especially in the intensive care unit. There is evidence suggesting that individuals with severe COVID-19 disease have a paralyzed or suppressed immune system and a decreased ability to eliminate the infection from the body. To discover treatments that restore immune function, we must better understand what causes the immune system to fail. We will study COVID-19 ICU patients throughout their hospitalization to define the relationship between the quantity of virus found deep in the lungs with the overall function of the immune system. We will compare the quantity of virus in the lung at various ICU timepoints with immune system signals of function to determine if patients with high levels of virus also have a suppressed immune system. In those patients, we will identify the cause of their immune suppression. With this information, we will start to apply therapies to restore immune function and improve patient outcomes.