Rosetrees funded research, published today in Nature, has demonstrated fundamental differences in the immune responses of adults versus children when infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus. These differences help explain why children are less likely to become seriously ill when infected with the virus.
When the pandemic took hold in 2020, Rosetrees Trust quickly responded by providing emergency funding for Covid-19 related projects. Successful recipients of this funding included Dr Marko Nikolić (UCL) and Dr Kerstin Meyer (Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge) who jointly supervised this study that sought to understand why children appeared to be protected from infection.
They found that children have a stronger ‘innate’ immune response in the airways which restricts viral replication early on and prevents the virus from spreading to more vulnerable parts of the body. In adults there is a less rapid immune response due to the complexity of the immune system that adults have. This means that the virus is better able to invade other parts of the body where the virus is harder to control.
Understanding the differences in immune responses to infection is important for identifying those people most at risk of serious disease and ultimately for discovery of potential new therapies.