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Covid-19: new test could improve the evaluation of the immune system


Covid-19: new test could improve the evaluation of the immune system

New T-cell blood test could provide more insight into our immune system’s ability to contain Covid-19 compared to current antibody tests. This is what a new study by the Duke-NUS Medical School of Singapore and the Tisch Cancer Institute, Mount Sinai of New York suggests, conducted by Antonio Bertoletti and Ernesto Guccione.

Unlike antibodies, T lymphocytes do not prevent the occurrence of the disease, but they protect against the disease. The latter are in fact able to recognize the infected cells and destroy them and also they are important for the maturation of B lymphocytes, helping the formation of antibodies.

Immune system, a new test could help in its evaluation

In people with weakened immune systemsCovid-19 vaccines can provoke a response from T lymphocytes though they do not induce the antibody response. The test is based on this scientific evidence and is able to detect and quantify the cell-mediated immune response against Sars-Cov-2 in just 24 hours, by accurately measuring the frequency of CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes specific for the virus spike protein. The test was developed as part of a study that aims to analyze the effect of the Covid vaccine on people who are able to produce antibodies or who have diseases that compromise the antibody response mediated by B lymphocytes.

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The data obtained confirm that the response of T lymphocytes is established after the first dose of vaccine, which on the one hand allow the production of antibodies and on the other they act directly on the cells infected by the virus, killing them. The successful immunization is therefore measurable not only by the production of antibodies, but also by the presence of memory T lymphocytes that play a protective role against the virus. Similarly to other vaccines, the presence of memory lymphocytes can be considered a fundamental parameter to evaluate the duration of the protective immune response and the need to carry out any recall even more in those who have one impaired immune system.

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Recognize the virus despite new mutations

For its characteristics the developed test therefore assumes particular importancecompared to the evaluation of neutralizing antibodies, precisely in these patients considered fragile and that they cannot produce antibodies: in these subjects, in fact, it is not possible to evaluate the successful immunization by measuring the antibody titre, but it is possible to do it by the measurement of memory CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytesspecific for the Covid-19 Spike protein.

Variants of the coronavirus such as Omicron eludes most of the neutralizing ability of antibodies but the T lymphocytes are still able to recognize the virus despite the mutations, making it even more It is important to have tests that can specifically measure this cell population. The test is currently available for research purposes but is widely usable in the population.

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Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay