A Michigan Medicine physician-investigator and recipient of a Taubman Institute Innovation Projects (TIIP) grant will use samples from COVID-19 patients to study how the virus affects a patient’s immune profile.
Daniel Goldstein, MD, last year began a TIIP study that will scrutinize the immune system of organ transplant patients in an effort to refine the use of immune suppression drugs, which can have life-threatening side effects.
Leveraging some of the partnerships and protocols established for that study, Dr. Goldstein and colleagues will use blood samples already collected from COVID-19 patients at Michigan Medicine and the Veterans Administration hospital in Ann Arbor. They’ll submit the samples from COVID patients to mass cytometry, which scans the tissue at the cellular level.
The blood will be analyzed via 40 parameters, such as the presence of certain T cells, B cells and proteins related to immune functions. By comparing the severity of each patient’s illness to the results of his or her blood analysis, researchers hope to develop better understand the illness’s trajectory.
The Taubman Institute, which helped to purchase the mass cytometry equipment – known as CYTOF — is underwriting the analysis of samples from one dozen patients.
“We want to see how the immune system is activated — to identify novel markers of immune activity that are triggered into action and how that may correlate with the severity of the illness,” said Dr. Goldstein, Michigan Medicine’s Eliza Maria Mosher Collegiate Professor in Internal Medicine. “If things look interesting we can expand to more patients, and this may have implications beyond our study.”