‘Very exciting’: Melbourne researchers make major COVID-19 coronavirus breakthrough
A team of Melbourne scientists believe they’ve discovered how the human body overcomes the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The team of Doherty Institute researchers has, for the first time, mapped the way a patient’s immune system responds to the virus.
It’s hoped the world-first breakthrough will fast-track treatments and vaccines, and help determine those at risk of dying from the virus.
Researchers have also found healthy people can expect to fight off the virus in just three days.
Laboratory head at the Doherty Institute and The University of Melbourne Professor Katherine Kedzierska explained they were looking at how the immune system responds to the novel corona virus in one of Australia’s first cases.
The patient had mild to moderate symptoms.
“What we found was that even the COVID-19 is caused by a new virus in an otherwise healthy person, we can mount a robust immune response across different cell types,” she told Neil Mitchell.
She said they still have a way to go before they understand why the coronavirus is severe and deadly in some cases, such as the elderly.
Professor Kedzierska said the findings inform the design of possible vaccines, drugs and therapeutics to provide protection from the coronavirus.
The researchers found the body fights the infection the same way as the flu.
“Yes, it’s very exciting to see how we can repeat the immunity to the novel coronavirus,” she said.
“The next step is to repeat the findings in a larger number of COVID-19 cases and to understand how some groups are really susceptible to the virus.”
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It comes as the first human trial of a vaccine for COVID-19 begins in the US.
It’s not the first major coronavirus breakthrough made by Doherty Institute researchers, who were also the first in the world to successfully grow the coronavirus in cell culture from a patient sample.