Major grant: Aarhus helping to answer the big coronavirus questions
Why do some people suffer from serious Covid-19 infections, while others do not become ill at all, even when exposed to massive infection? This is what Professor Trine Hyrup Mogensen from Aarhus University will study in a major European research project which has received DKK 50 million from the Horizon Europe programme.
Researchers are still to solve the mystery of why there is such a big difference in how ill people become when exposed to viral infections such as SARS-CoV-2, also simply known as coronavirus.
Professor Trine Hyrup Mogensen will head a major European research project which will, in collaboration with the global consortium COVID Human Genetic Effort, carry out research into why some people develop severe infections which lead to lung damage, or in some cases autoimmune diseases several weeks after they have been ill with SARS-CoV-2. And why some people experience side effects immediately after vaccination against the coronavirus, while others do not get symptoms, even though they have been exposed to infection or have virus in the body.
Trine Hyrup Mogensen, who is a professor at the Department of Biomedicine and a medical doctor at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital, surmises that genetics plays an important role and influences the immune system's ability to detect viruses, activate the immune response, and store this in the body's immunological memory ready for the next time the organism encounters the same virus.
In the Aarhus University-based Danish section of the DKK 50 million project, Trine Hyrup Mogensen and her colleagues will perform genetic and immunological analyses of samples from children and adults with Covid-19, autoimmune diseases, or long-term complications.
According to Trine Hyrup Mogensen, we can become much better at predicting who has an increased risk of suffering a serious, long-term course of illness, and thus also improve early individualized prevention and treatment of COVID-19, if we can gain a better understanding of the disease mechanisms and the significance of the genetic and immunological components for viral infections such as Covid-19. This knowledge would be a biomedical breakthrough that would also be beneficial for society when new corona waves or other viral pandemics occur.