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1.
Nature ; 2021 Nov 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1528018

ABSTRACT

T cell immunity is central for the control of viral infections. CoVac-1 is a peptide-based vaccine candidate, composed of SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes derived from various viral proteins1,2, combined with the Toll-like receptor 1/2 agonist XS15 emulsified in Montanide ISA51 VG, aiming to induce profound SARS-CoV-2 T cell immunity to combat COVID-19. We conducted a phase I open-label trial, recruiting 36 participants aged 18 to 80 years, who received one single subcutaneous CoVac-1 vaccination. The primary endpoint was safety analysed until day 56. Immunogenicity in terms of CoVac-1-induced T-cell response was analysed as main secondary endpoint until day 28 and in the follow-up until month 3. No serious adverse events and no grade 4 adverse events were observed. Expected local granuloma formation was observed in all study subjects, while systemic reactogenicity was absent or mild. SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses targeting multiple vaccine peptides were induced in all study participants, mediated by multifunctional T-helper 1 CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. CoVac-1-induced interferon-γ T cell responses persisted in the follow-up analyses and surpassed those detected after SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as after vaccination with approved vaccines. Furthermore, vaccine-induced T- cell responses were unaffected by current SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC). Together, CoVac-1 showed a favourable safety profile and induced broad, potent and VOC-independent T- cell responses, supporting the presently ongoing evaluation in a phase II trial for patients with B cell/antibody deficiency.

2.
Eur J Immunol ; 51(11): 2651-2664, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1366229

ABSTRACT

Both B cells and T cells are involved in an effective immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the disease-causing virus of COVID-19. While B cells-with the indispensable help of CD4+ T cells-are essential to generate neutralizing antibodies, T cells on their own have been recognized as another major player in effective anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunity. In this report, we provide insights into the characteristics of individual HLA-A*02:01- and HLA-A*24:02-restricted SARS-CoV-2-reactive TCRs, isolated from convalescent COVID-19 patients. We observed that SARS-CoV-2-reactive T-cell populations were clearly detectable in convalescent samples and that TCRs isolated from these T cell clones were highly functional upon ectopic re-expression. The SARS-CoV-2-reactive TCRs described in this report mediated potent TCR signaling in reporter assays with low nanomolar EC50 values. We further demonstrate that these SARS-CoV-2-reactive TCRs conferred powerful T-cell effector function to primary CD8+ T cells as evident by a robust anti-SARS-CoV-2 IFN-γ response and in vitro cytotoxicity. We also provide an example of a long-lasting anti-SARS-CoV-2 memory response by reisolation of one of the retrieved TCRs 5 months after initial sampling. Taken together, these findings contribute to a better understanding of anti-SARS-CoV-2 T-cell immunity and may contribute to paving the way toward immunotherapeutics approaches targeting SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Humans , Immunologic Memory , Lymphocyte Activation/immunology
3.
Cancer Discov ; 11(8): 1982-1995, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1236486

ABSTRACT

Patients with cancer, in particular patients with hematologic malignancies, are at increased risk for critical illness upon COVID-19. We here assessed antibody as well as CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses in unexposed and SARS-CoV-2-infected patients with cancer to characterize SARS-CoV-2 immunity and to identify immunologic parameters contributing to COVID-19 outcome. Unexposed patients with hematologic malignancies presented with reduced prevalence of preexisting SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive CD4+ T-cell responses and signs of T-cell exhaustion compared with patients with solid tumors and healthy volunteers. Whereas SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses did not differ between patients with COVID-19 and cancer and healthy volunteers, intensity, expandability, and diversity of SARS-CoV-2 T-cell responses were profoundly reduced in patients with cancer, and the latter associated with a severe course of COVID-19. This identifies impaired SARS-CoV-2 T-cell immunity as a potential determinant for dismal outcome of COVID-19 in patients with cancer. SIGNIFICANCE: This first comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in patients with cancer reports on the potential implications of impaired SARS-CoV-2 T-cell responses for understanding pathophysiology and predicting severity of COVID-19, which in turn might allow for the development of therapeutic measures and vaccines for this vulnerable patient population.See related commentary by Salomé and Horowitz, p. 1877.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1861.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Neoplasms , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Humans , Immunity , Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor , SARS-CoV-2
4.
EMBO Rep ; 22(5): e52325, 2021 05 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1204402

ABSTRACT

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an ongoing need for diagnostic tools to monitor the immune status of large patient cohorts and the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns. Here, we present 11 unique nanobodies (Nbs) specific for the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain (RBD), of which 8 Nbs potently inhibit the interaction of RBD with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as the major viral docking site. Following detailed epitope mapping and structural analysis, we select two inhibitory Nbs, one of which binds an epitope inside and one of which binds an epitope outside the RBD:ACE2 interface. Based on these, we generate a biparatopic nanobody (bipNb) with viral neutralization efficacy in the picomolar range. Using bipNb as a surrogate, we establish a competitive multiplex binding assay ("NeutrobodyPlex") for detailed analysis of the presence and performance of neutralizing RBD-binding antibodies in serum of convalescent or vaccinated patients. We demonstrate that NeutrobodyPlex enables high-throughput screening and detailed analysis of neutralizing immune responses in infected or vaccinated individuals, to monitor immune status or to guide vaccine design.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Single-Domain Antibodies , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Humans , Immunity , Pandemics , Protein Binding , SARS-CoV-2 , Single-Domain Antibodies/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
5.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(5)2021 Apr 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1201386

ABSTRACT

We describe the results of two vaccinations of a self-experimenting healthy volunteer with SARS-CoV-2-derived peptides performed in March and April 2020, respectively. The first set of peptides contained eight peptides predicted to bind to the individual's HLA molecules. The second set consisted of ten peptides predicted to bind promiscuously to several HLA-DR allotypes. The vaccine formulation contained the new TLR 1/2 agonist XS15 and was administered as an emulsion in Montanide as a single subcutaneous injection. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from blood drawn before and after vaccinations were assessed using Interferon-γ ELISpot assays and intracellular cytokine staining. We detected vaccine-induced CD4 T cell responses against six out of 11 peptides predicted to bind to HLA-DR after 19 days, following vaccination, for one peptide already at day 12. We used these results to support the design of a T-cell-inducing vaccine for application in high-risk patients, with weakened lymphocyte performance. Meanwhile, an according vaccine, incorporating T cell epitopes predominant in convalescents, is undergoing clinical trial testing.

6.
Sci Transl Med ; 13(590)2021 04 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1136061

ABSTRACT

Long-term immunological memory to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is crucial for the development of population-level immunity, which is the aim of vaccination approaches. Reports on rapidly decreasing antibody titers have led to questions regarding the efficacy of humoral immunity alone. The relevance of T cell memory after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains unclear. Here, we investigated SARS-CoV-2 antibody and T cell responses in matched samples of COVID-19 convalescent individuals up to 6 months after infection. Longitudinal analysis revealed decreasing and stable spike- and nucleocapsid-specific antibody responses, respectively. In contrast, functional T cell responses remained robust, and even increased, in both frequency and intensity. Single peptide mapping of T cell diversity over time identified open reading frame-independent, dominant T cell epitopes mediating long-term SARS-CoV-2 T cell responses. Identification of these epitopes may be fundamental for COVID-19 vaccine design.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Immunologic Memory , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Convalescence , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Humans , Immunodominant Epitopes/immunology , Kinetics , Peptide Mapping , Phosphoproteins/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
7.
ACS Infect Dis ; 7(6): 1596-1606, 2021 06 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1135641

ABSTRACT

The presence of antibodies against endemic coronaviruses has been linked to disease severity after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Assays capable of concomitantly detecting antibodies against endemic coronaviridae such as OC43, 229E, NL63, and SARS-CoV-2 may help to elucidate this question. We developed a serum screening platform using a bead-based Western blot system called DigiWest, capable of running hundreds of assays using microgram amounts of protein prepared directly from different viruses. Characterization of the immunoassay for detection of SARS-CoV-2 specific antibodies revealed a sensitivity of 90.3% and a diagnostic specificity of 98.1%. Concordance analysis with the SARS-CoV-2 immunoassays available by Roche, Siemens, and Euroimmun indicates comparable assay performances (Cohen's κ ranging from 0.8874 to 0.9508). Analogous assays for OC43, 229E, and NL63 were established and combined into one multiplex with the SARS-CoV-2 assay. Seroreactivity for different coronaviruses was detected with high incidence, and the multiplex assay was adapted for serum screening.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Coronaviridae , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Plant Extracts , SARS-CoV-2
8.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1152, 2021 02 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1091492

ABSTRACT

The humoral immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is a benchmark for immunity and detailed analysis is required to understand the manifestation and progression of COVID-19, monitor seroconversion within the general population, and support vaccine development. The majority of currently available commercial serological assays only quantify the SARS-CoV-2 antibody response against individual antigens, limiting our understanding of the immune response. To overcome this, we have developed a multiplex immunoassay (MultiCoV-Ab) including spike and nucleocapsid proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and the endemic human coronaviruses. Compared to three broadly used commercial in vitro diagnostic tests, our MultiCoV-Ab achieves a higher sensitivity and specificity when analyzing a well-characterized sample set of SARS-CoV-2 infected and uninfected individuals. We find a high response against endemic coronaviruses in our sample set, but no consistent cross-reactive IgG response patterns against SARS-CoV-2. Here we show a robust, high-content-enabled, antigen-saving multiplex assay suited to both monitoring vaccination studies and facilitating epidemiologic screenings for humoral immunity towards pandemic and endemic coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19/immunology , Cross Reactions , Immunity, Humoral , COVID-19/diagnosis , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Humans , Immunoassay , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Phosphoproteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Sensitivity and Specificity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
9.
Nat Immunol ; 22(1): 74-85, 2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1065902

ABSTRACT

T cell immunity is central for the control of viral infections. To characterize T cell immunity, but also for the development of vaccines, identification of exact viral T cell epitopes is fundamental. Here we identify and characterize multiple dominant and subdominant SARS-CoV-2 HLA class I and HLA-DR peptides as potential T cell epitopes in COVID-19 convalescent and unexposed individuals. SARS-CoV-2-specific peptides enabled detection of post-infectious T cell immunity, even in seronegative convalescent individuals. Cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 peptides revealed pre-existing T cell responses in 81% of unexposed individuals and validated similarity with common cold coronaviruses, providing a functional basis for heterologous immunity in SARS-CoV-2 infection. Diversity of SARS-CoV-2 T cell responses was associated with mild symptoms of COVID-19, providing evidence that immunity requires recognition of multiple epitopes. Together, the proposed SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes enable identification of heterologous and post-infectious T cell immunity and facilitate development of diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic measures for COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Peptides/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Viral Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Cross Reactions/immunology , HLA-DR Antigens/immunology , HLA-DR Antigens/metabolism , Histocompatibility Antigens Class I/immunology , Histocompatibility Antigens Class I/metabolism , Humans , Immunologic Memory/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , Viral Vaccines/administration & dosage
10.
ACS Sens ; 6(3): 703-708, 2021 03 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1047926

ABSTRACT

Immunological methods to detect SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion in humans are important to track COVID-19 cases and the humoral response to SARS-CoV-2 infections and immunization to future vaccines. The aim of this work was to develop a simple chromogenic magnetic bead-based immunoassay which allows rapid, inexpensive, and quantitative detection of human antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in serum, plasma, or blood. Recombinant 6xHis-tagged SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid protein was mobilized on the surface of Ni2+ magnetic beads and challenged with serum or blood samples obtained from controls or COVID-19 cases. The beads were washed, incubated with anti-human IgG-HPR conjugate, and immersed into a solution containing a chromogenic HPR substrate. Bead transfer and homogenization between solutions was aided by a simple low-cost device. The method was validated by two independent laboratories, and the performance to detect SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion in humans was in the same range as obtained using the gold standard immunoassays ELISA and Luminex, though requiring only a fraction of consumables, instrumentation, time to deliver results, and volume of sample. Furthermore, the results obtained with the method described can be visually interpreted without compromising accuracy as demonstrated by validation at a point-of-care unit. The magnetic bead immunoassay throughput can be customized on demand and is readily adapted to be used with any other 6xHis tagged protein or peptide as antigen to track other diseases.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19 Serological Testing , COVID-19/diagnosis , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay/methods , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/immunology , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Magnetic Phenomena
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