Hunter researchers seeking locals who have tested positive with COVID-19

May 4 2020

Hunter researchers seeking locals who have tested positive with COVID-19

Professor Peter Wark is working with a team at the Hunter Medical Research Institute on a study to assess how the immune system responds to COVID-19.
They are currently seeking 30 people from the Hunter region who have tested positive to the virus and now recovered to give a small sample of blood for analysis.

 Building on his long research career in the respiratory field, Professor Wark is keen to understand the pathologies behind COVID-19. “We know that there are certain cells in the blood that help fight viral infections, but what we don’t know is how these cells respond to the COVID-19 virus,” Professor Wark says. “Over the years we’ve developed a strong understanding of inflammation in people with viral infections like cold and flu, and we want to see whether there are any similarities with COVID-19. We already know there are important differences as to who is affected most by COVID-19, compared to other viruses such as influenza.
“This will enable to us to understand how to treat COVID-19 or its complications more effectively,” Professor Wark says.

After taking a blood sample, the team will then isolate the cells in the blood that help fight viral infections, and test them to see how they are responding to the COVID-19 infection.
“We will compare the responses measured with COVID-19 affected cells with responses we’ve measured in research using other viruses we’ve studied in the lab,” Professor Wark adds.

There is still little understanding of how COVID-19 affects the human body – and how the body responds to the infection, so it’s hoped that with the help of people who’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the Hunter, we can build a picture of how the virus works, and how our bodies fight it.

Since putting out a call on social media on 29 April, 15 people have come forward and offered to participate, meaning the team is already halfway to their total.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 30 days please contact Rebecca.mckerrow@newcastle.edu.au or douglas.dorahy@newcastle.edu.au.