Team:NMU China

Combatting COVID-19
Naval Medical University CHINA

Combatting Cytokine Storm of COVID-19


According to WHO, there have been more than 200 million confirmed cases and 4 million deaths in the whole world. However, current treatments for COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms are limited to supportive and non-specific therapies. Therefore, the specific therapies are urgently needed for the late-stage patients.





Cytokine Storm


SARS-CoV-2 can cause suppressed immune response and delayed IFN-I release in the early phase of COVID-19, which later leads to incomplete viral clearance and hyperinflammation. Current studies have demonstrated that COVID-19 patients with cytokine storm often have a poor prognosis. Immunopathological damage, especially cytokine storms may be responsible for the death of COVID-19 patients.



Balance the Immune Response


Thus, the immediate elimination of SARS-CoV-2 and the balance of immune response are both important for late-stage COVID-19 patients. However, no ideal therapy can concurrently achieve the two goals for all we know.


Smart Toggle Macrophages


To fill in the gap, we designed synthetic macrophages named “Toggle Macrophage”. As a "smart" therapy, Toggle Macrophage can both reduce the viral load through phagocytosis and balance the immune system via phenotypic transformation. Toggle Macrophage can switch between Mγ (CARγ macrophages) and Ms (CARMERTK macrophages). Mγ are capable of eradicating the viruses and promoting inflammation, while Ms are capable of eradicating the viruses and inhibiting inflammation.

Utilizing Our Model


Utilizing our model, we demonstrated its feasibility as antiviral therapy with immune-regulatory effect. We also optimized the usage of constructed macrophages, making it clinically suitable for different individuals.





Potential Therapy


Our project provides a potential therapy in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, especially in severe cases. Furthermore, we hope Toggle Macrophage could be employed to treat other cytokine-related diseases. In the process of doing our project, we felt a huge shock COVID-19 exerted on us and even every living creature on this planet. We sincerely hope our efforts could make a difference to the world.