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Fighting influenza & co. with 40,000 blood samples

cientists want to analyse up to 40,000 anonymised blood samples which have been collected over the last few years at Bonn University Clinic. They come from patients who were taken to hospital with completely different ailments. For each sample, the age of the person it was taken from is known. The scientists aim to obtain an overview of the immune status of the population which is as representative as possible. 'Recently a number of new respiratory viruses have been discovered,' the Bonn lecturer explains. 'We presume that we will find antibodies in the blood samples of older patients which are less effective against these pathogens than in the case of younger patients.'

The Dutch project partner, the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, discovered the coronavirus NL63. This virus belongs to the same group as the SARS virus, which gained notoriety during an epidemic in 2002 and 2003. The group from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam would now like to find out how an infection with this virus group progresses, in the hope of finding alternative ways of tackling the disease with new drugs.

A German software developer is also among the partners. The Hamann Company is developing a database solution to acquire the medical data and analyse the results, which are extensive. In this manner, current respiratory diseases in the EU are to be recorded in coming years using a standardised format. New immune tests which are being developed by the Spanish company INGENASA are intended to accelerate a solution to this problem. 'We want to find out which viruses are currently spreading, how dangerous they are and what risk factors make an infection particularly likely,' Oliver Schildgen explains.

In the meantime, a task force from the University of Siena is investigating how the immune response changes on a cellular level in elderly people. Studies with older mice are expected to provide further insights. For these, the University Clinic in Dijon
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Source:University of Bonn


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