Enhanced Immune Response in New COVID-19 Vaccines

Enhanced immune response against SARS-CoV-2 variants in new vaccination research.
Groundbreaking study explores enhanced immune response against SARS-CoV-2 variants post-vaccination.

An improved vaccination offers an enhanced immune response against both established strains and newly emerging variants, according to new research employing live SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The results of a study conducted by Oregon Health & Science University and published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases point to the need to routinely get updated vaccines, particularly for older individuals and those with underlying medical issues.

The virus is still circulating, it’s continuing to evolve, and it remains dangerous. Sooner or later, there will be another variant that evades the immunity we have already built up. Our study demonstrates that it’s worthwhile to update our immune repertoire.”- Fikadu Tafesse, Ph.D., co-senior author, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, OHSU School of Medicine

Based on federal data, vaccination uptake has decreased in the United States as the epidemic has become less visible to the general population.

The new study represents the most recent OHSU laboratory research that tests different SARS-CoV-2 virus strains, aiming to understand the enhanced immune response post-vaccination. Over 2,000 university staff members have volunteered to have blood taken before, during, and after vaccinations for the experiment to proceed. Antibody testing was the first step in the study project early in the epidemic.

In the most recent trial, blood samples from 55 individuals were separated both before and after they got an improved vaccine starting last fall that targets the virus’s XBB.1.5 subvariant, which is part of the omicron variant.

In terms of the amount of antibodies produced and their capacity to neutralize both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and other variants that have arisen after the novel coronavirus arrived in late 2019, they discovered a robust response. Crucially, it seemed that the vaccination produced a robust defense against the JN.1 variety that is currently circulating widely around the globe, indicating that frequent vaccine updates will help combat new variants.

The findings represent yet another milestone in the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s development.

“Overall, this work strongly supports the use of the updated vaccine,” said co-senior author Marcel Curlin, M.D., associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases) in the OHSU School of Medicine and medical director of OHSU Occupational Health. “In the big picture, COVID-19 is not going away but lining up alongside the other common respiratory illnesses such as flu and RSV, which cause relatively mild disease for most people and a lot of harm to a few.”

OHSU was among the first, in contrast to most other research investigations, to evaluate if blood serum antibodies produced by vaccination might prevent the infection of a live virus in a biosafety level 3 laboratory.

Xammy Huu Nguyenla, Mastura Wahedi, Timothy Bates, and Mila Trank-Greene from OHSU are co-authors with Tafesse and Curlin.

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