An Indian-American researcher, Girish Kirimanjeswara, associate professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences, at Pennsylvania State University, has found that a T-cell-based Covid vaccination may persist longer than the existing shots.
According to his team's research carried out in collaboration with Evaxion Biotech, T-cell vaccines offer long-lasting immunity against future developing variations and maybe serve as a paradigm for other seasonal viral infections like the flu.
The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is susceptible to changes that could reduce the vaccine's effectiveness over time. The current Covid vaccines are made to elicit an antibody response to this protein. However, Girish's team has developed an AI-generated vaccine that focuses on the T-cell instead.
“To our knowledge, this study is the first to show in vivo protection against severe Covid-19 by an AI-designed T-cell vaccine,” said Girish. “Our vaccine was extremely effective at preventing severe Covid-19 in mice, and it can be easily scaled up to start testing it in humans, as well,” he added.
As the current vaccines target the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which changes with every mutation of the virus, Girish explained that "vaccine manufacturers will have to keep creating new vaccines that target new variants, and people have to keep getting these new vaccines."
While that can be avoided with a T-cell vaccine, he added, “The second advantage is that T-cell-mediated immunity is usually long-lasting, so you don’t need repeated booster doses.”
Additionally, the study lays the path for the potential quick development of novel T-cell vaccines against seasonal and emerging viral illnesses like influenza, a University statement noted.