SYDNEY, July 14 (Xinhua) — A biomarker induced by COVID-19’s spike protein may hold the key to future validation of candidate vaccines, according to Australian researchers.
An important goal in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine is being able to generate a strong neutralizing antibody response, which can bind to the viral spike protein and prevent it from being able to attach to human cells.
To understand how the body does this naturally, the research team from the Melbourne-based Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity studied a number of candidates who had recovered from COVID-19, especially how their B and T cells from the immune system responded to the virus’ spike protein, which allows the virus to attach and invade human cells.
Jennifer Juno, first author on the paper, said they uncovered a potential biomarker to evaluate the effectiveness of those candidate COVID-19 vaccines.
“We found that those who showed strong neutralizing antibody activity had a robust B cell response, but most surprisingly, we also found that a particular subset of T cells, called T-follicular helper cells, was a great predictor of an effective immune response,” Juno said.
“We have previously demonstrated through influenza research that B cells are key to mounting an effective immune response to influenza, and we also know that T-follicular helper cells specifically help B cells to make antibodies,” she said.
The research team hopes the clinical trials of those vaccines can use their newly identified “immune parameters” to select the best vaccines that are generating the strongest neutralizing antibody response to the virus.
“Now we know how the immune system responds to the spike protein, and we have these biomarkers, or predictors of what elicits a good or poor immune response to COVID-19, we can look at the vaccine candidates and see what will offer the best protection,” Juno said. Enditem