More Than Antibodies

October 5, 2020

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Anchor lead: Could some vaccines prompt a broader immune response? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Sars-CoV2 vaccines all attempt to stimulate the body to produce antibodies against the virus’s spike protein, used to infect our cells. Yet Andrew Pekosz, a vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins, says some of the vaccines being tested also elicit other responses.

Pekosz: We always focus on antibodies. What we don’t think a lot about is the role of T cells in protection. T cells do lots of different things but in the simplest way when it comes to a Sars-CoV2 vaccine, there are these T helper cells  which help your B cells make antibodies. There’s a lot of data out there right now suggesting that people who are exposed to common cold coronaviruses may have some T cells that actually cross react with Sars coronavirus 2. We may be able to tap into some level of pre-existing immunity and enhance that a bit to get up broader protection against Sars-CoV2.   :33

Pekosz notes that while antibodies may wane over time, the T cells remain capable of responding to the virus. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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