Immune Systems Studied for COVID-19 Treatment

Huntsville Hospital has teamed up with HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and iRepertoire Inc. to study local patients diagnosed with Covid-19 to see how their immune systems are responding to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with the goal of developing a treatment.

“The most effective way to stop pandemics is with vaccines,” says Rick Myers, president and scientific director for HudsonAlpha. “However, the pipeline for vaccine production from development, to testing, to market can take years. A Covid-19 treatment is the best way to bridge the gap until a vaccine is widely available.”

Area participants who have been recently diagnosed with Covid-19 will be recruited to participate in the study. The patients will provide blood samples at four time points over a series of weeks in order to gauge how their immune system is responding to the virus. Researchers at HudsonAlpha and iRepertoire, a diagnostic technology company, hope the results of the study can be used to find and test possible treatments or cures for Covid-19 by using antibodies identified in these patients.

“The immune system is nature’s best doctor,” says Jim Han, M.D., Ph.D., founder and chief scientific officer of iRepertoire. “By understanding the immune system of patients that have effectively fought the pathogen, we can pinpoint the exact identity of cells that effectively eliminate the virus out of millions of possibilities.”

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These antibodies could potentially serve as a therapeutic vaccine that is administered after infection.

Huntsville Hospital has operated as a community-owned hospital since 1895 and is the second largest facility in the state and a centerpiece of a multi-hospital health system across North Alabama. It serves as a regional referral and trauma center for more than a million residents of the Tennessee Valley.

HudsonAlpha is a nonprofit institute in Huntsville, combining research, education, health and commercialization to improve the human condition around the globe. Its scientists apply the power of genomics to make research advances in disease and agriculture.

Founded in 2009 at HudsonAlpha, iRepertoire is the first company to develop and commercialize immune repertoire sequencing technology and products. Over the past decade, it has developed PCR multiplexing technologies specifically catered towards immune repertoire sequencing.

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