COVIMMUN - Immunome analysis in COVID-19

Targeted investigations of the immune system in SARS-CoV-2 infections

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The pandemic spread of COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, is currently posing unexpected challenges for health care systems. The very high number of severe and fatal disease courses require rapid and detailed scientific studies. These are indispensable for successful therapy as wells as research and prevention of long-term consequences.

Linking clinical and immunological data

Due to the shortness of the COVID-19 observation period, it is currently only possible to speculate about the acute and chronic consequences on the immune system and the affected organ systems, depending on the severity of the course of the disease.

Many methods for the determination of the immune system beyond routine measurements, which can reflect the current status of the immune system, are often only used in a research context, as they require a high degree of inter- and transdisciplinary expertise and sophisticated technical equipment. It is crucial to link the clinical data with the results of the immune system analysis and to interpret them against the background of the therapy and its course.

Prediction of disease progression and secondary diseases

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Taking into account the individual immune response to a SARS-CoV-2 infection, acute and chronic dysregulations are measured and evaluated. In the context of the clinical picture of the patient and taking into account the findings obtained, this allows a prediction of the occurrence of an acute course and the risk of a lack of complete recovery or the occurrence of secondary diseases. In this way, the treating physicians are provided with an image of the patient's current immune reaction, so that an adapted therapy can be carried out and its success can be monitored.

Cooperation between Fraunhofer and the University Hospital

The close cooperation of the research division TMP of Fraunhofer IME with the University Hospital Frankfurt ensures direct access to patient data and samples as well as the direct reflection of the results with the clinicians caring for the patients. All process structures are established and meet regulatory requirements and quality standards. Fraunhofer IME in Frankfurt maintains the necessary technical expertise for the required analyses. The evaluation and visualization of the results is carried out by Fraunhofer CIMD partner institutes IAIS and IGD.

Outlook

This project enables the mapping of the immune response by determining the patient-specific "omics" immunome, and to establish biomarkers for the early detection of severe disease progressions, in order to be able to intervene therapeutically before ventilation is required. New therapeutic starting points can be identified and, if necessary, favorably influenced with known drugs. Patients with defective immune system reconstitution are detected at an early stage in order to achieve a restoration of the immune system after a SARS-CoV-2 infection with targeted therapies and to prevent or attenuate secondary diseases.

The valid monitoring of a dysregulated immune reaction and the proof of its importance for clinical success makes biomarkers for prognosis and therapy control available for the first time. Since patient selection using biomarkers increases the probability of success of a clinical study with a drug by up to 30%, companies with already approved substances already choose Fraunhofer IME as a partner to conduct studies in severe infections.