T-lymphocytes (T cells) in the body of some people may have the ability to recognize COVID-19, despite being a new virus, according to researchers in Singapore.
Their findings suggest exposure to past types of coronaviruses may produce “memory T-cells” in the blood of some people, possibly helping them fight the new coronavirus. Researchers in the small study published in Nature also hope that these T-cells could help develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
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“It’s important to send the message that T cells and not just antibodies are an essential part of antiviral immunity,”; Dr. Antonio Bertoletti, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School and co-author of the study, told Fox News in a statement.
“Other coronaviruses have always circulated in humans. “It is possible that immunity to closely related viruses may reduce susceptibility or change the severity of the disease,” Bertoletti added.
T cells are part of your immune system that responds to a foreign invader, such as a virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are different from antibodies.
Once the body fights an infection, “the immune system remembers what it learned how to protect the body from that disease,” the CDC said on its website. The body will hold some special T-cells – referred to as “memory cells” – this will act as an alarm and help the immune system identify and produce antibodies to attack the foreign germ if it re-enters the body. , according to the federal health agency.
In the study in Singapore, scientists discovered the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in all the patients they tested who were recovering from COVID-19.
“[One hundred] the percentage of patients with COVID-19 develop virus-specific T-cell immunity, “Bertoletti said in a statement.
The researchers also found that patients who were infected with SARS during the 2003 outbreak still possess virus-specific memory T cells – 17 years later. They also found that these patients exhibited cross-immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind this coronavirus pandemic.
“[One hundred] “The percentage of subjects infected with SARS-Cov-1 in 2003 have pre-existing reactive T cells against SARS-CoV2,” Bertoletti told Fox News in a statement.
Bertoletti also said that their group found that “more than 50% of healthy uninfected individuals demonstrate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 specific T cells.”
The researchers said this may be due to cross-reactive immunity which is caused by exposure to other types of coronaviruses such as those that cause the common cold, or other currently unknown animal coronaviruses.
“It is important to understand if this can explain why some individuals are able to better control the infection,” Bertoletti said.
The authors stated in a news release that the findings of stable T cells and the findings of immunity cross-suggest the role of T cells – not just antibodies – are an essential part of COVID-19 immunity.
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What remains unclear, however, is whether pre-existing T cells are sufficient to protect or alter the pathogenesis of COVID-19, the authors discussed in a statement.
The team of researchers announced in the release that it will conduct a larger study of exposed, uninfected subjects to examine whether T cells can protect against COVID-19 infection or change the course of the infection. They also said they would explore the potential therapeutic use of SARS-CoV-2 T-specific T cells.