Methods for reducing the risk of SARS-cov2 associated cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients

University of Aberdeen

Active award

Principal Investigator: Dr Frank Ward

Year Award Started: 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the lives of people in Scotland, the UK and across the world. A central dangerous feature of the disease, for some, is the development of a “cytokine storm” that if not quickly controlled has devastating and even deadly consequences for the patient. A complicating factor in COVID-19 patients is that general immunosuppressive agents including corticosteroids are deleterious early in disease. There has been success, however, with antibody therapies that inhibit an important component of inflammation called IL-6, but evidence suggests that there are other unidentified cytokine storm factors that also contribute to disease. We want to examine this area thoroughly to test a range of potential therapies able to selectively inhibit the factors that underline cytokine storm damage, while allowing the anti-viral immune response to persist and destroy the infection. We will examine the inhibitory effects of a group of compounds that have found success in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, both of which are also characterised by inflammation and the presence of IL-6. The aim is to define the inhibitory effects of these compounds as a preliminary study of their suitability for treating the COVID-19 cytokine storm.

Research area: Infections, inflammation or immunology