Important scientific discovery on the presence of specific immune cells in patients suffering from severe forms of Covid opens important perspectives in the prognosis and treatment of the disease. The scientific study, published in the prestigious scientific journal “Cell” was conducted in Siena, in the UOC Diseases of the Respiratory System of the Sienese University Hospital, and was coordinated by Professor Elena Bargagli, head of the regional reference center for rare pulmonary diseases, together with researcher Laura Bergantini.
The experiments related to the study of immunological responses in patients hospitalized for Covid interstitial pneumonia were conducted at the Laboratory of Assistance and Translational Research, directed by Professor Francesco Dotta.
«The study – explains Bargagli – has shown that some immune cells, such as specific subsets of Natural Killer cells and T cells, are exclusively present in patients with severe forms of the disease, with interstitial pneumonia, and may represent future treatment targets. In particular, these are cells that normally intervene in the defense of the organism in the presence of viral, bacterial or tumors but in patients with severe forms of Covid, a phenomenon that we have is present, in a more abundant way, in a specific subtype. already observed in patients with progressive pulmonary fibrosis. The future perspective is therefore to evaluate at the peripheral level the presence of these subgroups of cells, belonging to the white blood cell family, in patients with Covid in order to have an indicator of prognosis, understand the cases that can worsen and personalize the therapy. to avoid bad outcomes. In summary – explains Bargagli – these cells from simple immune response indicators can become prognosis markers and potential treatment targets ».
The research was carried out thanks to the collaboration between a group of young researchers (doctoral students, postdocs and doctors in specialist training) of the University of Siena and the pulmonologists of the Aou Senese actively engaged in assisting patients in the Covid area.