An international consortium comprised of 11 medical research organisations is researching the role of overactive white blood cells, neutrophils, in causing the most severe Covid-19 cases.
In a paper published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers hypothesis that severity of Covid-19 may be due to the unintended damage to the lungs when neutrophils attack pathogens using neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). This is why the consortium is called the NETwork.
If the consortium finds that NETs are linked with severe Covid-19, this opens up a potential avenue for new treatments. There are already some NETs and neutrophil-focused treatments for cystic fibrosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The research institutes that comprise NETwork are Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, University of Michigan, University of California, San Francisco, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Utah School of Medicine, Northwell Health and Weill Cornell Medicine in the US, as well as McGill University Health Centre in Canada and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nancy in France.