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Common cold may help immune system learn to fight SARS-CoV-2

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Peer-reviewed: This work was reviewed and scrutinised by relevant independent experts.

Observational study: A study in which the subject is observed to see if there is a relationship between two or more things (eg: the consumption of diet drinks and obesity). Observational studies cannot prove that one thing causes another, only that they are linked.

Cells: This is a study based on research in micro-organisms, cells, tissue, organs or non-human embryos.

A small study by US researchers reports that patients with less severe COVID-19 symptoms have T-cells in their blood which help stimulate the immune system to fight SARS-CoV-2. The researchers also found some of the same SARS-CoV-2-reactive cells in the blood of uninfected patients collected before the pandemic. While the number of patients tested was small (20 infected, 20 uninfected), the results suggest the virus does create an immune response, which may help development of effective treatments. The researchers also suggest infections with other coronaviruses (like the common cold) may help the immune system fight a COVID-19 infection - indicating the potential for pre-existing immunity. However further research is required to confirm this.

Journal/conference: Cell

DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.05.015

Organisation/s: La Jolla Institute of Immunology, USA

Funder: J.M. was supported by Ph.D. student fellowships from the Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (COLCIENCIAS) and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Convocatoria 727 Doctorados Nacionales). This work was funded by the NIH NIAID under awards AI42742 (Cooperative Centers for Human Immunology) (S.C., A.S.), National Institutes of Health contract Nr. 75N9301900065 (A.S. and D.W.), and U19 AI118626 (A.S. and B.P.). The BD FACSymphony purchase was partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and LJI Institutional Funds (S.C. and A.S.). This work was additionally supported in part by the Johnathan and Mary Tu Foundation (D.S.), the NIAID under K08 award AI135078 (J.D.), and UCSD T32s AI007036 and AI007384 Infectious Diseases Division (S.Ram., S.Raw.).

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