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The University of Southampton

Volunteers needed for new COVID-19 study

Published: 9 February 2021
Rapid Diagnostics

Scientists at the University of Southampton are to conduct a new study investigating the immune mechanisms that prevent severe infection from COVID-19.

The immune system can be divided into two parts, the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system comprises the first responders to any infection, whilst the adaptive immune system takes some time (1-2 weeks) to mature following an infection.  Most work in COVID-19 has been done on the adaptive immune system, but if a person’s innate immune system is particularly active then this may prevent infection with COVID-19 altogether.

This knowledge can then be used to identify individuals at high risk of severe infection, or to augment current vaccination strategies.

The Southampton team, led by Professor Salim Khakoo and Dr Marta Polak, will use a combination of standard immunological techniques and novel bioinformatics tools to analyse natural killer cells and dendritic cells – the key components of the innate immune – response to COVID-19.

The team are calling for volunteer blood and/or saliva donors to help with the study, in particular individuals who have a household member that have had COVID-19 but haven’t had COVID-19 themselves.

Professor Khakoo said: “Most of the COVID-19 research has focused on the adaptive immune system but our project’s aim is to identify innate protective mechanisms so that we can develop predictive tests for infection and severity. “

The study is funded by the UKRI National Core Studies for COVID Immunology and part of a consortium Imperial College, London and the universities of Oxford, Cardiff, Surrey and Queens Belfast.

Anyone wanting to take part in the study should email  

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