Studying antibodies may shed light on long term immunity of a population

New research at U of A examines antibody concentrations of resolved COVID-19 infections.
By: Heather Marie Connors
July 04, 2020
Photo: Getty Images

With support from the federal government’s Rapid Research Funding Opportunity, Steven Drews, a microbiologist at the University of Alberta, is leading a year-long study of immunity in resolved COVID-19 cases. By analyzing leftover blood samples from the Canadian Blood Services, Drews is measuring the presence of antibodies and then testing their effectiveness in preventing the infection of a host cell.

“Once you've been infected, you can't stop that, but having enough pre-existing antibodies could blunt that infection and reduce your chances of having a severe disease or reduce the chance of having the virus, for example, move deeper into your respiratory tract,” says Drews.

Every body’s immunity is unique and complex, and while Drews does not necessarily predict that a therapeutic will be developed from his research, he points to the value in understanding immunity at a larger scale. The insights gained can aid in designing tests, and in estimating the immunity of a population, which is fundamental to forming public health policy.

Source: U of A folio


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