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Researchers look to flu to better understand how the body fights COVID-19

Memphis, Tennessee, November 13, 2020

Three reearchers in masks talking around a table.

From left to right: Co-first author Jeremy Chase Crawford, PhD, Immunology; co-corresponding author Paul Thomas, PhD, Immunology; and author Aisha Souquette.

Influenza and COVID-19 are both caused by respiratory viruses. But we know much more about the flu virus than we do about the virus that causes COVID-19.

St. Jude scientists teamed up with those at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to compare how the disease-fighting immune system combats both viruses.

Inflammation plays a key role in the immune response against viruses. Too much inflammation can lead to life-threatening tissue damage.

This study focused on adults with moderate-to-severe flu and COVID-19. They learned COVID-19 patients had less inflammation than flu patients.

“The difference does not mean the COVID-19 patients had less disease,” says Paul Thomas, PhD, Immunology. “We are saying the disease wasn’t caused by hyperinflammation.”

The scientists also learned more about other aspects of the immune response to the pandemic virus—clues that point to possible new drugs to treat COVID-19.

Science Advances carried a report on this research.

Read the News Release

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