Our immune system is our best defence against infecting viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. However, for many people, their immune system doesn’t work optimally to fight COVID: and often a lot of the severe illness is caused by collateral damage from the overactive immune system.
Dr Labzin’s work is understanding how the immune system detects an infection and what specific alarm signals it sends out to start preparing a targeted response. She has found that even if sentinel immune cells (macrophages) are directly infected by SARS-CoV-2, they stop the virus from replicating and infecting other cells. This is because they send out really powerful immune signals. She is now trying to understand whether this is protective, or driving disease in COVID-19, and the specific alarms being triggered.
Larisa has participated in both national and international radio and television interviews for Triple J Hack, the ABC and BBC World News. She has also written articles for The Conversation and given public talks about COVID-19 to various audiences.
Larisa graduated with her PhD in 2015 at the University of Bonn, Germany and is now a UQ Amplify Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland.