URMC launches new COVD-19 study looking at immune system response


URMC aiming to recruit about 100 people

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — University of Rochester Medical Center researchers are launching a new study to understand how the immune system responds to COVID-19 infection.

The study aims to recruit about 100 people from the region who are COVID-19 positive and follow them for several months. All of this will help inform on vaccine developments and other possible treatments. 

The medical teams are looking for: people who are currently infected with COVID-19, were previously infected, suspected to be carriers, or been exposed in households with someone known to have coronavirus. 

They also want to learn how long someone is protected from re-infection once they have been exposed to the virus and recovered.

At a press conference Thursday, URMC said they can move much faster than other centers with this kind of work, adding Rochester has been studying respiratory illness for decades. URMC says the first Covid cases here in Rochester are only about a month old, so they will be learning things in “real time” as they go.

“We don’t know very much about how well infection results in protective immunity. You can get re-infected with seasonal coronaviruses, so it’s possible that you might be protected for a short time after this COVID infection, but we don’t know how long that lasts. That’s part of the objective of this study is to find out how long those protective antibodies persist,” says Dr. Dave Topham with URMC.

The study is being supported with $5 million from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseseas, which is led by Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

URMC hopes to start recruiting patients at hospitals this week, and then others in the community.

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