SARS-CoV-2 infection can trigger a spectrum of host responses ranging from no symptoms to acute respiratory distress syndrome, multi-organ failure and death. Recovered individuals mount an effective immunity, however, some survivors develop COVID-19-associated morbidities, such as lung fibrosis or neurological symptoms. The immunopathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 is not well understood and the host factors that determine the clinical course of infection remain obscure.
We postulate that the individual immune response during the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection may be an outcome-relevant factor. A balanced innate immune response together with an efficient anti-viral adaptive response may be key to clear the infection and develop immunity, while preventing inflammation-induced pathologies and long-term consequences.
We have devised a precision immunology approach to systematically study immune functions in SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals that remain asymptomatic or develop COVID-19 with different levels of disease severity. Our central hypothesis is that innate and adaptive immune responses towards SARS-CoV-2 infection are influenced by genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors, which determine the host’s ability to mount an efficient and appropriately controlled immune response and that may influence the development of COVID-19-associated pathologies.
COVIMMUNE connects clinicians with core expertise in relevant clinical disciplines (virology, internal medicine, intensive care, pulmonology, neurology) with basic scientists with expertise in virology, immunology, bioinformatics and systems biology. Our approach aims to identify the factors that determine the immune response and clinical outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection and will reveal predictive signatures to facilitate the development of superior biomarkers for disease susceptibility and personalized treatment.