COVID-19 patients can rapidly generate virus-attacking T cel
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Patients suffering from severe respiratory symptoms due to the novel coronavirus infection can rapidly generate an immune response in the form of virus-attacking T cells, suggests a new study by researchers from the University of California in the US,

The study, published in the journal Science Immunology, assessed T cells from 10 Covid-19 patients under intensive care treatment.

Extracted blood cells from patients soon after they were admitted to the ICU for Covid-19. Exposed these cells to “megapools” of known SARS-CoV-2 protein components in a technique meant to capture a large fraction of total viral-reactive T cells.


• SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ helper T cells were active in all 10 patients, and CD8+ “killer” T cells were present in 8 out of 10 patients.

• They also characterized the cells’ production of specific inflammation-triggering cell-cell signaling molecules called cytokines.

• Strongest responses were directed to the virus’ spike (S) surface protein, supporting prior work that has pointed to this protein as a promising target to induce virus-specific T cells.

• Two out of 10 healthy individuals without prior exposure to the virus also harbored SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells.

• T cells may be cross-reacting to SARS-CoV-2, due to past infection with related coronaviruses.

They believe a future study of how preexisting SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in healthy controls correlate to protection against Covid-19 can help shed more light on the disease and “and also inform vaccine design and evaluation.”

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