COVID-19 has touched almost every country around the world since it emerged months ago, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and millions infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But there might be a silver lining to this catastrophic pandemic.
Dr. Shashi Gujar, a scientist with the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University, who is leading an ongoing international collaboration with partners in France, Denmark, Germany, US and India, is examining whether the body’s immune response to SARS-CoV-2 could be repurposed to kill cancer cells.
Following infection with SARS-CoV-2, our defence system -- the immune system -- recognizes the virus and activates a particular type of immune cell called “T cells.” These T cells act in a highly precise manner and kill only virus-harbouring cells. Most importantly, T cells can establish a ‘memory’ response that maintains active protection against possible re-infection with the virus.