Coronavirus is taunting the world with its emerging mutant strains, lengthening the period of the pandemic. Loss of lives, loss of employment, and deviating health are making the lives of people a nightmare.
Common Cold T cells Can Be Your Guard Against Covid-19
At these difficult times, research conducted by the researchers of Imperial college London treats us with a piece of heartwarming news.
The novel UK-based study has found the protective role of T cells against COVID-19, which can now serve as an updated version of the vaccine.
Need For A New Vaccine:
Though the existing vaccine is efficient and life-saving. It cannot combat the varying mutant strains of the virus. The existing vaccine can only attack the spike proteins on the outer surface which is entirely different in the case of mutant strains. Mutant strain evolves continuously to escape from the vaccine. This narrows down the efficiency and usage of the vaccine. A new study also states that the level of antibodies reduces within six months of vaccination and requires a booster dose to sustain its workability.
T cell And Its Study:
T cells are a variety of white blood cells that protect our body by fighting against various infections. They act as key players to produce an immune response against the virus and its proteins. This study published in the journal of Nature Communications elaborates the role of T Cells produced against common cold coronaviruses’ capacity to fight against COVID-19. The researchers proved the capability of T cells to act as a “Memory bank.”
Articulation Of Professor Ajit Lalvani:
Ajit Lalvani, Senior author, Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Respiratory Infections Health Protection Research Unit at Imperial College London says, T cells affect the internal proteins of the virus which is less prone to mutation. By producing a vaccine against the internal protein using T cells we can assure long-term protection which is a major drawback in the existing vaccines. This can provide a broad range of protection from current and future strains of the virus.
Previous Research Vs This Research:
Infinite research is being conducted all around the world to find a solution to combat the COVID-19. Likewise, one previous research gave a most needed hint on the production of T cells against common cold coronavirus which led to this study. The idea of T cell production against the virus made this team examine the T cells against SARS-CoV-2 during the time of infection.
The Experimental Study:
This study started in September 2020 was performed with 52 UK residents. These 52 participants were in contact with COVID-19 positive confirmed people, were not vaccinated, and had no SARS-CoV-2 infection. Blood samples were collected from day 1 to day 6 from all those 52 participants to analyze the levels of T cells before and after the onset of the disease. This helped the researchers investigate the T cell production against SARS-CoV-2 proteins. PCR tests were also performed on these 52 participants to find out the onset of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Other factors like ventilation, place/location, household contact, the possibility of infection were considered by the researchers.
Result of The Research:
Out of the 52 participants, 26 non-infected individuals were found to have a remarkably high range of these cross-reactive T cells, compared to the infected 26 people. A broad range of protection was observed from the T cells. It is found to recognize and combat the internal proteins, which could assure that T cell-based vaccines can also fight against updating mutant strains.
‘Pre-existing T cells can protect against COVID-19 infection. But this cannot assure complete protection against the virus. Vaccination along with the booster dose must be taken by people to protect themselves from the virus’ says, Senior author, Rhia Kundu from Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute.
Insights Of Dr. Simon:
Dr. Simon Clarke, Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology, University of reading said that this study has opened a new gate for vaccine development against the COVID-19. This work has helped researchers to get a transparent view of the immune response produced by our body against various viruses. People infected with a common cold caused by coronavirus had well-developed immune responses against COVID-19 infection. The death rate, the severity of the infection, and other related illnesses were reduced in the individuals with the previous onset of coronavirus common cold. Only 10-15% of the common cold are caused by a coronavirus, so all the common colds cannot be considered to have been caused by a coronavirus.
This research published in the journal of Nature Communications was funded by the Medical Research Council and UK’s NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Respiratory Infections. This team also included Indian-origin researchers. Future studies aim to investigate more about T cells’ role and vaccine development.