In an interview with Medical News Today, James Hindley, Ph.D., of Indoor Biotechnologies explains how his company is developing a new T-cell test during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also reveals why this test is a much-needed tool for those designing new vaccines and studying immune responses to the new coronavirus.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, scientists from various disciplines and geographical locations have collaborated in unprecedented ways. The speed with which diagnostic tests have shifted from conception to reality has been astonishing, as has the global efforts to test new drugs to find treatments for those who have acquired the disease.
However, effective treatments appear only temporarily.
Working with the team at Indoor Biotechnologies, Dr. Hindley and Dr. Scurr are developing a new type of test that can show if someone has developed specific T cells for SARS-CoV-2. T cells are a type of white blood cell. They play a key role in how our bodies can fight viral pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus.
Why does a new T cell test need to be developed?
Dr. James Hindley says that "The current goal for immunity testing against SARS-CoV-2 is based on antibody evaluation."
The body develops T cells when it fights an infection and they can help create more antibodies if a person is exposed again. This means that the immune system may remember how to fight Covid-19 even after the original antibodies have faded. There are currently no tests for measuring T cells in SARS-CoV-2 on a large scale.
Any T cell test for SARS-CoV-2 was done as part of a research study conducted in only a few specialized laboratories. These laboratories use specialized techniques, called flow cytometry or ELISpot, which require highly trained staff and relatively expensive equipment.