Why does SARS-CoV-2 infection cause devastating illness in some while others have only mild symptoms? A study published in Science last year found that neutralizing autoantibodies against IFNa and/or IFNw are the cause of a significant proportion of life-threatening COVID-19 cases. The study found that 13.7% of patients with critical COVID-19 had autoantibodies against IFNa and/or IFNw, while these autoantibodies were only detected in 0.3% of healthy individuals (samples collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic).
“When identified early in the course of disease, detection of these autoantibodies could lead to novel therapeutic interventions, such as IFNb administration” said Lindsey Rosen, co-first author of the study. “We are hoping to screen samples collected from clinical trials where IFNb was used to treat COVID-19, some of which found a potential benefit of early IFNb administration. I hypothesize that some of the patients with positive outcomes have these autoantibodies and that exogenous IFNb helped them clear the virus more rapidly.”
Lindsey was recently recognized for her contributions to cytokine research as the first-place awardee of the 2020 William E. Paul Award. She will present her work and be recognized for her award at the upcoming NIH/FDA Cytokine Interest Group Mini Symposium on June 10, 2021, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET, on webex. Lindsey is currently finishing her doctoral research on autoimmunity at the University of Oxford and the National Institutes of Health as an NIH OxCam Scholar. After completing her DPhil, she plans to perform her postdoctoral research on anti-cytokine autoantibodies at the National Institutes of Health under the mentorship of Dr. Steve Holland.