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World’s First Study to Deliberately Infect Healthy Volunteers with SARS-CoV-2 for Investigation of T Cell Response to COVID-19

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 19 May 2021
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Image: T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit (Photo courtesy of Oxford Immunotec Ltd.)
Image: T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit (Photo courtesy of Oxford Immunotec Ltd.)
In the first study of its type in the world, researchers are deliberately infecting healthy volunteers with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in order to investigate human T cell response to COVID-19 infection.

For the UK COVID-19 Human Challenge Study, a national collaboration including the UK government, the NHS, academia and the private sector, investigators are conducting T cell testing using the T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit from Oxford Immunotec Ltd. (Abingdon, UK), a PerkinElmer, Inc. (Waltham, MA; USA) company.

The groundbreaking UK COVID-19 Human Challenge Study has global importance as the first study of its type in the world, and the data generated should help to develop vaccines against COVID-19 much more quickly and efficiently. The first stage of the trial, which commenced in March, will enable identification of the most appropriate dose of the virus needed to cause COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in a safe and controlled environment. The participants will have a complete analysis of their immune response to infection carried out (including T cells) which should lead to a better understanding of the profile, magnitude, and duration of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2. This study will therefore establish an optimized dose and study design that will subsequently be used to evaluate the efficacy of treatment and vaccine candidates, including level and duration of immune protection, in follow-on studies.

A custom version of Oxford Immunotec’s T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit (for research use only) will be used in this study. The kit uses the T-SPOT technology platform, a standardized ELISPOT methodology, to detect the T cell immune response in study subjects. Understanding the T cell immune response, in addition to the antibody response (via serology), may offer additional insights into how the complete immune system responds to infection and vaccination. As T cells are the first responders of the immune system and are known to be long lived, using T cells to measure immune response may overcome some of the limitations of serology testing. A CE marked IVD version of the kit (the T-SPOT.COVID test) is also available from Oxford Immunotec.

“The UK COVID-19 Human Challenge Study has global significance, and the potential to be a much more efficient and faster way to understand the disease and how our immune system fights it,” said Dr. Magdalena Dudek, VP, Product Development at Oxford Immunotec. “We are very excited to be a part of this trial which should accelerate the development of vaccines and treatments against COVID-19. We are proud of our continual partnership with the UK Vaccines Taskforce which enables us to provide T cell testing for this critical clinical trial.”

Related Links:
Oxford Immunotec Ltd.
PerkinElmer, Inc.

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