Research into COVID-19

SARS-CoV-2: Essen’s researchers are working at full steam

Since SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 came into our lives, all eyes have been on science. The UDE’s Faculty of Medicine has specialised in infectious diseases and immunology for many years. Since the spring of 2020, its researchers have been working at full steam to understand the novel coronavirus. Between then and late September, the ethics committee approved around 70 research applications, so the corresponding studies went underway immediately.

An important axis of science: Essen and Wuhan collaborate on research into COVID-19

The Faculty of Medicine operates a German-Chinese laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The Wuhan-Essen International Laboratory of Infection and Immunity was founded in 2017 by the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan. Their partnership can help advance research during the ongoing pandemic. Professor Ulf Dittmer, Director of the Institute of Virology at the UDE’s Faculty of Medicine, believes that the large number of human samples from virus-bearing patients and the clinical data provided by the team in Wuhan constitute a particular advantage.

Coronaviruses: mouthwash can lower the risk of contagion

Certain brands of commercial mouthwash can deactivate SARS-CoV-2 viruses. That was the insight gained from a series of promising cell culture experiments conducted by researchers from six universities, including two members of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen: PD Dr Adalbert Krawczyk from the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Professor Jörg Steinmann from the Institute of Medical Microbiology. The laboratory results are yet to be verified in clinical studies. The research project was funded by Stiftung Universitätsmedizin Essen and the EU Horizon 2020 project.

A new test for analysing antiviral substances and neutralising antibodies for SARS-CoV-2

Neutralisation tests for the novel coronavirus are very complicated and require special laboratories. Researchers of the Faculty of Medicine have developed a faster, more economical method that is widely applicable. A pre-print of the study has been published to give the scientific community rapid access to the new method.

The Merkel phenomenon: a study into the significance of political communication

It was a historic speech that made an impact: in her TV address in March, Angela Merkel found the words we all needed to hear. COVID-19 does not just attack the respiratory system, it also takes a toll on our mental health. Clear political leadership and communication are incredibly important. The renowned journal Public Health reported on a study into the significance of political communication conducted by researchers of the UDE’s Faculty of Medicine.

Early detection of severe COVID-19 cases

Many cases of COVID-19 are mild. Around ten per cent of patients, however, develop severe pneumonia and require intensive care. Identifying at-risk patients is an important step towards initiating the right treatment at an early stage. In partnership with the Wuhan Union Hospital, researchers from the Institute of Virology have found that the T cell population is a useful indicator. The study was preliminarily published online in The Lancet EBiomedicine.