Korean Researchers Identify Interferon Type 1 Key for COVID-19 Cytokine Storm New Targets

Korean Researchers Identify Interferon Type 1 Key for COVID-19 Cytokine Storm New Targets

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology reports a joint team of researchers discovered the cause of hyper-inflammatory response in COVID-19 patients. Interferon type 1 could hold a key to advanced solutions for severe COVID-19 cases associated with the deadly cytokine storm.

The Issue

Those severe to critical COVID-19 patients that succumbed to the cytokine storm, the hyper-inflammatory response involving an immune substance secreted excessively, attacking healthy cells, face dangerously high death rates.  Research hasn’t yet determined why the cytokine storm occurs in COVID-19 patients.

The Study Team

This Korean-based study team included the Korea Advanced Institute of Science (KAIST) and Technology, Asan Medical Center, Severance Hospital, and Chungbuk National University Hospital.

The Study

This collaborate, as reported in Korea Biomedical Review, analyzed severe and mild COVID-19 patients’ samples. The team found that tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1 (IL-1), both inflammatory cytokines, were frequently observed in COVID-19 patients’ immune cells regardless of illness severity. This study was titled “Immunophenotyping of COVID-19 and Influenza Highlights the Role of Type 1 Interferons in Development of Severe COVID-19.” The study was just published in the journal Science Immunology on July 10.


After a comparative analysis of both severe and mild COVID-19 cases, the multicenter Korean team discovered that interferon, a cytokine response, was especially robust in severe cases. As it turns out, interferon, again a type of cytokine, is secreted by the body when its host cell is infected by viruses, bacteria and parasites, for example, or even when cancer cells are present.

Interferon type 1: Could be a New COVID-19 Severe Cytokine Storm Target

Interferon type 1 produced by such COVID-19 infected cells will aid adjacent cells to demonstrate antiviral defense in an attempt to counter the infection. Although the team acknowledged that non-specific anti-inflammatory drugs like steroids could be used to help reduce hyper inflammatory responses in COVID-19 patients, the study’s findings offers a new treatment could target interferon.

Lead Research/Investigator

Corresponding research authors include:

·         Eui-Cheol Shin, KAIST

·         Inkyung Jung, KAIST

·         Sung-Han Kim, Asan Medical Center

For other researchers, follow the link to the source study.

Call to Action: KAIST will continue to study new immune mechanisms and personalized anti-inflammatory drugs to increase the survival rate of COVID-19 patients. 


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.