T cells seem more important in fighting coronavirus than thought

A corona vaccine that specifically instructs the immune system to produce T cells instead of antibodies provides good protection in a mouse model. The research group of Ramon Arens writes this in Nature Communications.

T cells seem more important in fighting coronavirus than thought

According to the researchers, such a vaccine may offer a solution for people with a weakened immune system, because they respond less well to the current corona vaccines.


Everyone has known them since the corona pandemic: antibodies. These substances bind to the spike proteins on the coronavirus, preventing them from infecting our cells. The main purpose of corona vaccines is therefore to stimulate the production of these antibodies. Less well known are the CD8 T cells of our immune system. And that is unjustified, according to immunologist Ramon Arens. These cells move through our bodies like true knights to eliminate infected cells one by one.


The recent study in  Nature Communications  shows why T cells deserve more attention. “We have shown that a vaccine that specifically stimulates CD8 T cells protects mice very well against an otherwise deadly coronavirus infection,” Arens says. “Provided we vaccinate them three times,” he adds. But that is not everything. Vaccines that focus on T cells appear to be more resistant to new virus variants and are expected to protect for longer than current corona vaccines.

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