Led by Marseille Immunopole, the exploratory research project EXPLORE COVID-19 brings together the Marseille Public University Hospitals (Hôpitaux Universitaires de Marseille – AP-HM), the Hospital Laveran (HIA-Laveran) and the biotech company Innate Pharma.
The goal is to better understand the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and explore new ways to fight against it.
Marseille France, April 3, 2020 – The French Immunology cluster Marseille Immunopole (MI) and a group of Marseille-based hospitals, including the emergency, intensive care and internal medicine units at La Timone, North and Laveran Hospitals and the MI/AP-HM immunoprofiling laboratory at La Timone Hospital, along with the biotech company Innate Pharma, have launched an exploratory research task force named EXPLORE COVID-19.
Led by Éric VIVIER (Professor at AP-HM – Aix-Marseille University and Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, Chief Scientific Officer at Innate Pharma), the goal of the research project is to gain valuable translational insights to better understand the immune response in COVID-19 patients and identify potential new ways to fight the viral infection.
To date, more than 40 physicians and researchers across the respective organizations have started analyzing the immune response to SARS-Cov2 from blood samples of approximately 100 infected patients at different stages of the disease: 1) patients with no or few symptoms;
2) patients who require oxygen; and 3) a group of severe patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation. Through this comparative analysis, scientists hope to better understand the impact of the immune response on the evolution of COVID-19 and pathways able to modulate this response. This will include a focus on Innate Pharma targets that may have a role in controlling viral infection or SARS-Cov2-induced inflammation.
“All the teams at AP-HM are mobilized, not only our care services but also our research laboratories, to provide new therapeutic options to infectious diseases, emergency and critical-care physicians,” emphasizes Emilie GARRIDO-PRADALIE, Director of Health Research at AP-HM. “In these exceptional circumstances, Marseille Immunopole allowed us to mobilize expertise and talent in record time, once again demonstrating the strength of our collective.”
“Once patients are infected with SARS-CoV-2, their immune system is activated. Unfortunately, for some patients, the system goes into overdrive and “floods” the lungs with inflammatory cytokines, resulting in acute respiratory distres” indicates Dr. Julien CARVELLI, physician at the intensive care unit at la TImone.
“By exploring the immune response of patients with distinct profiles, we hope to better understand the contribution of different white blood cell populations and quickly identify new therapeutic avenues,” explains Pr. Eric VIVIER.
Innate Pharma is funding this study, which is being conducted at its labs in Marseille-Luminy as well as at the MI/AP-HM immunoprofiling laboratory at La Timone Hospital, under the leadership of Dr Frédéric VELY.