T cells protect against COVID-19 in absence of antibody response
At a Glance
- In studies of mice, immune cells called T cells protected animals against COVID-19 even in the absence of antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
- Vaccines designed to produce a strong T cell response may be able to help protect against current and future variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.
The study examined the roles of T cells, illustrated here, in protecting against COVID-19. Design_Cells / Shutterstock
Vaccines developed early in the COVID-19 pandemic still provide strong protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death. But SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues to mutate. Many of these mutations alter the spike protein, which the virus uses to enter and infect cells. These mutations help the virus to dodge the immune system’s attack.
Current vaccines prompt the creation of antibodies and immune cells that recognize the spike protein. However, these vaccines were developed using the spike protein from an older variant of SARS-CoV-2. This has made them less effective at preventing infection with newer variants. Researchers have found that immune cells called T cells tend to recognize parts of SARS-CoV-2 that don’t mutate rapidly. T cells coordinate the immune system’s response and kill cells that have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
A vaccine that prompted the body to create more T cells against SARS-CoV-2 could help prevent disease caused by a wide range of variants. To explore this approach, an NIH-funded research team led by Dr. Marulasiddappa Suresh from the University of Wisconsin, Madison studied two experimental vaccines that included compounds to specifically provoke a strong T-cell response in mice.
Using mice that could be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the team tested the vaccines’ ability to control infection and prevent severe disease caused by an earlier strain of SARS-CoV-2 as well as by the Beta variant, which is relatively resistant to antibodies raised against earlier strains. The results appeared on May 17, 2022, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
When the researchers vaccinated the mice either through the nose or by injection, the animals developed T cells that could recognize the early SARS-CoV-2 strain and the Beta variant. The vaccines also caused the mice to develop antibodies that could neutralize the early strain. However, they failed to create antibodies that neutralized the Beta variant.
The team exposed the mice to SARS-CoV-2 around 3 to 5 months after vaccination. Vaccinated mice had very low levels of virus in their lungs compared with unvaccinated mice and were protected against severe illness. This was true of infection with the Beta variant as well. This showed that the vaccine provided protection against the Beta variant despite failing to produce effective antibodies against it.
To understand which T cells were providing this protection, the researchers selectively removed different types of T cells in vaccinated mice prior to infection. When they removed CD8 (killer) T cells, vaccinated mice remained well protected against the early strain, although not against the Beta variant. When they blocked CD4 T (helper) cells, levels of both the early strain and Beta variant in the lungs and severity of disease were substantially higher than in vaccinated mice that didn’t have their T cells removed.
These results suggest important roles for CD8 and CD4 T cells in controlling SARS-CoV-2 infection. Current mRNA vaccines do produce some T cells that recognize multiple variants. This may help account for part of the observed protection against severe disease from the Omicron variant. Future vaccines might be designed to specifically enhance this T cell response.
“I see the next generation of vaccines being able to provide immunity to current and future COVID-19 variants by stimulating both broadly-neutralizing antibodies and T cell immunity,” Suresh says.
A number of technologies and tools got a chance to prove themselves for the first time in the context of COVID-19. Three researchers working in gene-based vaccines, wearable diagnostics and drug discovery explain how their work rose to the challenge of the pandemic, and their hopes that each technology is now poised to continue making big changes in medicine.
Thirty years ago, researchers for the first time injected mice with genes from a foreign pathogen to produce an immune response. Like many new discoveries, these first gene-based vaccines had their ups and downs. Early mRNA vaccines were hard to store and didn’t produce the right type of immunity. DNA vaccines were more stable but weren’t efficient at getting into the cell’s nucleus, so they failed to produce sufficient immunity.
Researchers slowly overcame the problems of stability, getting the genetic instructions where they needed to be and making them induce more effective immune responses. By 2019, academic labs and biotechnology companies all over the world had dozens of promising mRNA and DNA vaccines for infectious diseases, as well as for cancer in development or in phase 1 and phase 2 human clinical trials.
When COVID-19 struck, mRNA vaccines in particular were ready to be put to a real-world test. The 94% efficacy of the mRNA vaccines surpassed health officials’ highest expectations.
DNA and mRNA vaccines offer huge advantages over traditional types of vaccines, since they use only genetic code from a pathogen – rather than the entire virus or bacteria. Traditional vaccines take months, if not years, to develop. In contrast, once scientists get the genetic sequence of a new pathogen, they can design a DNA or mRNA vaccine in days, identify a lead candidate for clinical trials within weeks and have millions of doses manufactured within months. This is basically what happened with the coronavirus.
Gene-based vaccines also produce precise and effective immune responses. They stimulate not only antibodies that block an infection, but also a strong T cell response that can clear an infection if one occurs. This makes these vaccines better able to respond to mutations, and it also means they could be capable of eliminating chronic infections or cancerous cells.
The hopes that gene-based vaccines could one day provide a vaccine for malaria or HIV, cure cancer, replace less effective traditional vaccines or be ready to stop the next pandemic before it gets started are no longer far-fetched. Indeed, many DNA and mRNA vaccines against a wide range of infectious diseases, for treatment of chronic infections and for cancer are already in advanced stages and clinical trials. As someone who has been working on these vaccines for decades, I believe their proven effectiveness against COVID-19 will usher in a new era of vaccinology with genetic vaccines at the forefront.
But the pandemic both served as a lens to focus many researchers in the field of health wearables and offered them an unprecedented opportunity to study real-time infectious disease detection. The number of people potentially affected by a single disease – COVID-19 – at one time gave researchers a large population to draw from and to test hypotheses on.
Proteins are the molecular machines that make your cells function. When proteins malfunction or are hijacked by a pathogen, you often get disease. Most drugs work by disrupting the action of one or several of these malfunctioning or hijacked proteins. So a logical way to look for new drugs to treat a specific disease is to study individual genes and proteins that are directly affected by that disease. For example, researchers know that the BRCA gene – a gene that protects your DNA from being damaged – is closely related to the development of breast and ovarian cancer. So a lot of work has focused on finding drugs that affect the function of the BRCA protein.
However, single proteins working in isolation are usually not solely responsible for disease. Genes and the proteins they encode are part of complicated networks – the BRCA protein interacts with tens to hundreds of other proteins that help it perform its cellular functions. My colleagues and I are part of a small but growing field of researchers who study these connections and interactions among proteins – what we call protein networks.
For a few years now, my colleagues and I have been exploring the potential of these networks to find more ways drugs could ameliorate disease. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, we knew we had to try this approach and see if it could be used to rapidly find a treatment for this emerging threat. We immediately started mapping the extensive network of human proteins that SARS-CoV-2 hijacks so it can replicate.
Once we built this map, we pinpointed human proteins in the network that drugs could easily target. We found 69 compounds that influence the proteins in the coronavirus network. 29 of them are already FDA-approved treatments for other illnesses. On Jan. 25 we published a paper showing that one of the drugs, Aplidin (Plitidepsin), currently being used to treat cancer, is 27.5 times more potent than remdesivir in treating COVID-19, including one of the new variants The drug has been approved for phase 3 clinical trials in 12 countries as a treatment for the new coronavirus.
But this idea of mapping the protein interactions of diseases to look for novel drug targets doesn’t apply just to the coronavirus. We have now used this approach on other pathogens as well as other diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.
These maps are allowing us to connect the dots among many seemingly disparate aspects of single diseases and discover new ways drugs could treat them. We hope this approach will allow us and researchers in other areas of medicine to discover new therapeutic strategies and also see whether any old drugs might be repurposed to treat other conditions.
Pertaining to my professional perspective on the vaccine, as I have fielded many questions. The big picture is: If your under 60 and healthy, refrain from obtaining at this time, as the long term effects on your Immune System are unknown at this time. However, If your under 60 with Diabetes, Cardiac Disease, Neurodegenerative Disorders, Thyroid & other endocrine disorders it would be wise to consider obtaining the vaccine. Our vision has always been to intake foods and supplements to Optimize The Immune System, which translates into intake of Anti-Oxidants & Anti-Inflammatory Compounds (Plant Based) on a daily basis.
|Public discussion of “herd immunity” often treats it like an on-off switch: When the U.S. reaches herd immunity, the crisis will be over; until then, the country has little immunity from Covid-19. But that’s not right. Herd immunity is more like a light dimmer. The more people develop immunity — either from having been infected or from being vaccinated — the less easily the virus will spread. Nearly 30 percent of Americans have now had the virus, according to Youyang Gu, a data scientist. (That includes many people who have never taken a Covid test.) About 18 percent have received at least one vaccine shot. There is some overlap between these two groups, which means that about 40 percent of Americans now have some protection from Covid. Had these people been exposed to the virus a year ago, they could have become infected — and then spread Covid to others. Today, many are protected. “This level of population immunity slows down transmission,” Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in The Washington Post. “After millions of infections and the start of a vaccination campaign, the virus is finally, slowly, starting to run out of new people to infect.”|
As with any virus, they need a host cell to replicate, thus attacking more cells and causing increasing amounts of cells to not function properly. Secondly, our immune system mounts a response to this antigen (the virus), via activating T-Cells, B-Cells (from which we generate our own antibodies), Macrophages, lymphocytes etc. This response by our immune system is different for many people, and can cause an overzealous response, creating overwhelming inflammation, especially in the the critical areas of the Lungs, Heart & Brain. Thus, testing for antibodies is important for preventing the spread, however, to protect yourself one must ingest agents on a daily basis, whether in their diet, or via supplements to improve their immune system and decrease inflammation. Our Plant Based Capsules developed based upon evidence based testing, incorporate a synergistic proprietary Blend of agents to maximally optimize the immune system & decrease inflammation. Taking 2-3 of the Curcu-Meric 900 mg & 2-3 of the Gluco-Mmune 900 mg daily in divided doses with food has proven to be a gamechanger clinically.
There are certain characteristics of a virus that create similar Signs & Symptoms, and there are other characteristics of a virus on a molecular & cellular level, that create it’s own unique set of Signs & Symptoms.
For Example: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Herpes Simplex Viruses 1&2 (HSV1-2), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Parvovirus B19, Rotavirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV); Also the Hepatitis Viruses A-B-C.
These all elicit similar prodromal symptoms such as Fever, Headache, Malaise, Fatigue, lack of appetite, nausea; however, they all have their own set of unique characteristics.
With respect to COVID-19, 2 unique characteristics have been this rapid respiratory inflammatory response, most likely Immune Mediated “Cytokine Storm”, and the second being the development of Blood Clots. I / We at The ROOT Cause, LLC, have a passion for Curcumin due to it’s intrinsic nature to address problems at their source, Increasing blood flow, Decreasing tissue inflammation, Optimizing the Immune System and thus Increasing oxygen delivery to the tissues. This becomes important in both an acute setting when battling COVID-19, and a chronic setting to address diseases such as Diabetes & Cardiovascular disease, along with disease onset prevention.
Evidence builds linking anticoagulation to COVID-19 survival
Use of systemic anticoagulation may improve the chance of survival in patients hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus, a large study from the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak suggests.
Among nearly 3,000 patients with COVID-19 admitted to New York City’s Mount Sinai Health System beginning in mid-March, median survival increased with the addition of anticoagulation.
The results were particularly striking among sicker patients who required mechanical ventilation, in whom in-hospital mortality fell from 62.7% to 29.1%
Our Immune systems are over-reacting to this new virus in an aberrant fashion, creating abnormalities in our normal blood clotting cascade of factors and co-factors, as well as affecting the functionality of our platelets.
Ingesting healthy foods and supplements on a daily basis to improve immunity, and mildly thin your blood (Curcumin & Aspirin), proves to be beneficial for preventative measures.
July 30, 2020
Cohort Study involving 1,916 patients and 1,486 Influenza Patients revealed Patients with COVID-19 appear to have a higher risk of acute ischemic stroke, than patients with Influenza. Authors of the Study urge clinicians to be vigilant for acute ischemic stroke signs and symptoms in patients with COVID-19, to ensure the implementation of time-sensitive interventions. Another confirmation that prophylaxis with daily Curcumin / Turmeric can prevent sequelae of COVID-19.