Researchers are repurposing a treatment for HIV with T-Cells that will likely target mutant variants of SARS-CoV-2 called epitopes of the coronavirus that will be stopped by T-cell vaccine.
According to Gaurav Gaiha, MD, connected to several institutions, most notably MIT and Harvard, has been studying HIV disease. It has similarities to most viruses that allowed mutations to occur over time.
T-cells the secret killers
Studies made on the HIV's mutating ability is not along many RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus that will change and adapt as time passes. Disease-causing viruses will come up with a variant that will ultimately find a way to bypass immune defenses, and infect the host's cells. What keeps to this viral warning system are the epitopes, reported SciTech Daily.
Gaiha and Elizabeth Rossin, MD, Ph.D., co-author of the study, created the structure-based network analysis approach from their data. This method can know what viral components were constrained, restricted after a change in the virus DNA.
Most of the time, epitopes that are limited by mutation are few and they can restrict the ability of the virus to take over the host cell, or prevent the cell from getting invaded, cited News Medical.
Start of the pandemic
SARS-CoV-2 was seen by Gaiha as a chance to compare the principles of HIV structure-based network analysis to COVID-19. If the coronavirus will mutate, it might bypass both natural and vaccine immunity. T-Cells will likely target mutant variants to stop infection.
This method was instrumental in identifying the elements which were considered vital to the study. These are the mutationally constrained SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that were immediately recognized by immune response cells as the intruders in the host's cellular environment. With this knowledge, the epitopes can be trained to detect any T-cell of SARS-CoV-2, and activate immune defenses and start an immunity to the invading foreign bodies
The discoveries of special cellular components like the epitopes would be based on a new vaccine that aces SARS-CoV-2 and similar SARS coronaviruses before they can fully infect.
During the first parts of the pandemic, one thing for sure is the SARS-CoV-2 will be changing its structure more than once. Some labs have mapped out the protein structures (40%) of the coronavirus, while patients with good T-cell response, have been analyzed to have CD8+ T-cell response that will be able to live through getting infected by COVID-19.
What would follow the discoveries
Once the scientists get the data from the study via their own approach, this will allow them to decide on a course of action. These parts are determining the epitopes that can stop the T-cells if they can recognize them. The method was used on HIV-positive individuals. Next would be repurposing the results against the SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that will be recognized by the T-cells used in a vaccine.
Another member of the study, Anusha Nathan, a medical student at Harvard said that the networked epitopes are connected to the virus. He added that it stabilizes the virus, which will make it less likely to mutate.
T-Cells will likely target mutant variants via their epitopes and provide a projected immune response. The study says recognizing SARS-CoV-2 epitopes will be the key to another vaccine for mutated coronavirus virus variants.