02 September 2021 | News
Simple T-cell test overviews body’s elusive part of the immune response to COVID-19 for better vaccination strategies
Photo Credit: Freepik
Researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School, together with collaborators from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and Singapore General Hospital (SGH), have discovered a simple and rapid method to measure the T-cell immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
This method is a further boost to scientists who seek to routinely monitor and assess SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses in vaccinated or convalescent individuals, as well as to test and verify the effectiveness of vaccines.
Scientists introduced small fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein directly into the blood samples of vaccinated or COVID-19 recovered individuals. T cells released chemical signals called cytokines, which are much easier to detect and measure than T cells, and are already being tracked to monitor T-cell activity for the diagnosis of diseases such as tuberculosis.
Building on that, the team showed that the test, called Cytokine Release Assay (CRA), can reliably identify and quantify specific T cells present in the blood samples. Researchers desmonstrated that the CRA test was as sensitive as existing methods used to find and measure T-cell activity.
To bring this discovery to market, Duke-NUS has licensed the assay to Hyris, an innovation-based biotechnology company, which will leverage its Hyris SystemTM to further develop this rapid SARS-CoV-2 T-cell test for clinical use globally.