T-cell Immunity ‘May Last Longer Than Antibodies’



These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

T-cell Immunity ‘May Last Longer Than Antibodies’

UK preprint research gives evidence that T-cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 may last longer than antibody immunity.

The research is from the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) and Public Health England.

It assessed cellular immune response at 6 months following primary infection in 100 healthy adults with asymptomatic or mild-to-moderate COVID-19.

Study author, Dr Shamez Ladhani, consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: “Cellular immunity is a complex but potentially very significant piece of the COVID-19 puzzle, and it’s important that more research be done in this area. However, early results show that T-cell responses may outlast the initial antibody response, which could have a significant impact on COVID vaccine development and immunity research.”

Professor Paul Moss, UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium lead from University of Birmingham, said: “To our knowledge, our study is the first in the world to show robust cellular immunity remains at 6 months after infection in individuals who experienced either mild/moderate or asymptomatic COVID-19. Interestingly, we found that cellular immunity is stronger at this time point in those people who had symptomatic infection compared with asymptomatic cases. We now need more research to find out if symptomatic individuals are better protected against reinfection in the future.”

Commenting via the Science Media Centre, Professor Charles Bangham, chair of immunology, Imperial College London, said: “These results provide reassurance that, although the titre of antibody to SARS-CoV-2 can fall below detectable levels within a few months of infection, a degree of immunity to the virus may be maintained.  However, the critical question remains: do these persistent T-cells provide efficient protection against re-infection?  It will also be important to follow the antibody and T-cell immunity in people who develop the syndrome of long COVID – the persistent and sometimes debilitating condition that follows acute SARS-CoV-2 infection in a still uncertain proportion of people.  Finally, the data in this paper reinforce the need for care in interpreting the results of serological (antibody) tests: it is still unclear how well either the antibody titre or the T-cell frequency correlate with actual protection against reinfection.”

2 Weeks to See Benefit of England’s Second Lockdown

NHS England’s Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, has cautioned that it’ll take until half way through England’s 4 week national lockdown to see improvements in infections. “It takes around a fortnight for today’s infections in the community to result in hospital COVID admissions – so what happens over the next 2 weeks is partly baked in. But the measures announced today [Oct 31] will help reduce the number of admissions beyond that,” he said in a statement.

“Daily hospital COVID admissions are now higher than on 23 March when the Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown.

“NHS doctors and nurses in many areas of England – including Liverpool, Lancashire, and Nottinghamshire – are now treating more COVID-19 patients than at the peak of the first wave.”

Three of the Nightingale

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France’s Ose to enrol up to 400 for ‘T-cell’ coronavirus vaccine trials

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Ose Immunotherapeutics will enrol up to 400 patients for the first two stages of clinical trials of an experimental coronavirus vaccine it hopes will provide an extra weapon in battle against the global pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: A small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Chief executive Alexis Peyroles told Reuters Ose hoped to roll out its vaccine in Europe and the United States in 2022, potentially at least a year after the most advanced projects.

However, he said the different modus operandi of Ose’s candidate meant it could still play an important role.

More than 40 drugmakers and research groups are conducting human trials into vaccines against a virus that has led to more than 1 million deaths and roiled economies.

Most of these vaccines are primarily designed to generate so-called “neutralising antibodies” to thwart the virus. While this is seen as the most promising approach, some researchers question whether the effect will last as the virus mutates.

Ose, which focuses on oncology and autoimmune diseases, believes a subgroup of T-cells, also known as “killer cells”, can be trained to attack cells infected by a virus and recognise up to 11 of the coronavirus proteins – whereas traditional vaccines typically go after one.

“T-cells are like the infantry in our bodies,” Peyroles said, adding Ose’s vaccine could be given alone or in combination with other shots for some immuno-suppressed subjects or those suffering co-morbidities such as diabetes or cancer. “If you inject an antibodies vaccine several times to extend protection, you may end up seeing adverse reactions to the vaccine, that is where our product could also complement well.”

OSE is listed as the only company pursuing a T-cell based approach in the World Health Organization’s tally of vaccines. bit.ly/3dH39As

The potential vaccine is one of a handful being developed by French companies or researchers, including by Sanofi, Valneva and Osivax as well as researchers at Institut Pasteur. If the first two phases of clinical trials due to start around the end of the year – and which will help assess safety and immune response – go according to plan, Ose will aim to team up with a partner from the industry to conduct final Phase III studies from September 2021 and possibly distribute the vaccine.

Peyroles did not say if his company had started talks with potential partners, but said companies such as Sanofi, Merck & Co and AstraZeneca could be interested after they get the readouts from their own late stage trials. “We have ensured they are aware of our data,” he said of the three companies when asked if discussions were already underway. Peyroles said production of the vaccine could be scaled up easily given the availability of the ingredients and OSE’s existing supply agreements. “We are not in the biologics space with this vaccine. We have the partnerships and we can produce millions of doses.”

Reporting by Matthias

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EMA OKs First CAR T-Cell Therapy for Mantle Cell Lymphoma

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) today recommended granting conditional marketing authorization to brexucabtagene autoleucel (Tecartus), making it the first approved chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) in the European Union.

Brexucabtagene autoleucel is the third CAR T-cell therapy to be recommended for approval in Europe, but the only one for this indication.

The agent was approved for the same use in the United States earlier this year and was described by one expert as representing a “new frontier” in the treatment of MCL.

The new agent addresses an unmet need in MCL for patients who relapse or progress despite available therapies.

The current standard of care for this cancer includes stem cell transplantation and various therapy regimens, including Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors, all of which are often initially effective. However, patients commonly relapse or stop responding to treatment, according to the EMA.

“This opinion is an important milestone for patients in Europe living with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma,” said Ken Takeshita, MD, global head of clinical development at Kite, the agent’s manufacturer, in a press statement.

It is based on safety and efficacy results from the multicenter, single-arm ZUMA-2 trial in 74 adult patients with refractory or relapsed MCL who had received at least two prior therapies.

During the study’s 12-month follow-up period, 84% of patients had a partial response and 59% had a complete response.

The most common side effects are cytokine release syndrome, infections, and encephalopathy. Monitoring and mitigation strategies for these side effects are described in the product information and the agent’s risk management plan.

Further efficacy and safety data are being collected as part of long-term follow-up from the pivotal study and an additional registry-based study.

Brexucabtagene autoleucel was supported through EMA’s Priority Medicines (PRIME) initiative, which provides early and enhanced scientific and regulatory support to medicines that have the potential to address unmet needs.

Nick Mulcahy is an award-winning senior journalist for Medscape. He previously freelanced for HealthDay and MedPageToday, and had bylines in WashingtonPost.com, MSNBC, and Yahoo. Reach him by email and follow him on Twitter.

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