Anti-interferon autoantibodies in COVID-19

Study code

Lead researcher
Kenneth Smith

Study type
Samples and data

Institution or company
Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease

Researcher type

Speciality area
Infection, COVID


COVID-19 has killed over four million people and seems to target men and specific ethnic groups. Messenger molecules called interferon are very important for fighting the infection. However, a study showed that around 10-13% of patients that become very ill from COVID-19, have molecules (called antibodies), that stop the interferon from working. Interestingly, these patients were almost all men and in some cases, these antibodies were found in the patient’s blood before COVID-19.  

We will measure antibodies against interferon in samples from COVID-19 patients and look if the antibodies are linked to disease severity. In addition, we want to see when the antibodies appear in the blood of COVID-19 patients and whether the amount of antibodies changes over time.  

Our aim is to use the results from this project to develop tests that might predict COVID-19 progression and help the development of new treatments for COVID-19.