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Cross-reactive and mono-reactive SARS-CoV-2 CD4+T cells in prepandemic and COVID-19 convalescent individuals

PLoS Pathog

2021 Anna Wald; David Koelle

Class II tetramer reagents for eleven common DR alleles and a DP allele prevalent in the world population were used to identify SARS-CoV-2 CD4+ T cell epitopes. A total of 112, 28 and 42 epitopes specific for Spike, Membrane and Nucleocapsid, respectively, with defined HLA-restriction were identified. Direct ex vivo staining of PBMC with tetramer reagents was used to define immunodominant and subdominant T cell epitopes and estimate the frequencies of these T cells in SARS-CoV-2 exposed and naïve individuals. Majority of SARS-CoV-2 epitopes identified have <67% amino acid sequence identity with endemic coronaviruses and are unlikely to elicit high avidity cross-reactive T cell responses. Four SARS-CoV-2 Spike reactive epitopes, including a DPB1*04:01 restricted epitope, with ≥67% amino acid sequence identity to endemic coronavirus were identified. SARS-CoV-2 T cell lines for three of these epitopes elicited cross-reactive T cell responses to endemic cold viruses. An endemic coronavirus Spike T cell line showed cross-reactivity to the fourth SARS-CoV-2 epitope. Three of the Spike cross-reactive epitopes were subdominant epitopes, while the DPB1*04:01 restricted epitope was a dominant epitope. Frequency analyses showed Spike cross-reactive T cells as detected by tetramers were present at relatively low frequency in unexposed people and only contributed a small proportion of the overall Spike-specific CD4+ T cells in COVID-19 convalescent individuals. In total, these results suggested a very limited number of SARS-CoV-2 T cells as detected by tetramers are capable of recognizing ccCoV with relative high avidity and vice versa. The potentially supportive role of these high avidity cross-reactive T cells in protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 needs further studies.

Frequent development of broadly neutralizing antibodies in early life in a large cohort of children living with HIV

J Infect Dis

2021 Youyi Fong

BACKGROUND: Recent studies have indicated that broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) in children may develop earlier after HIV infection compared to adults. METHODS: We evaluated plasma from 212 ART-nave, children living with HIV (1-3 years-old). Neutralization breadth and potency was assessed using a panel of 10 viruses and compared to adults with chronic HIV. The magnitude, epitope specificity and IgG subclass distribution of Env-specific antibodies were assessed using a binding antibody multiplex assay. RESULTS: 1-year-old children demonstrated neutralization breadth comparable to chronically-infected adults, while 2 and 3-year olds exhibited significantly greater neutralization breadth (p=0.014). Similarly, binding antibody responses increased with age, with levels in 2 and 3 year-old children comparable to adults. Overall, there was no significant difference in antibody specificities or IgG subclass distribution between the pediatric and adult cohorts. Interestingly, the neutralization activity was mapped to a single epitope (CD4 binding site, V2 or V3 glycans) in only 5 of 38 pediatric broadly neutralizing samples, suggesting most children may develop a polyclonal neutralization response. CONCLUSIONS: These results contribute to a growing body of evidence suggesting that initiating HIV immunization early in life may present advantages for the development of broadly neutralizing antibody responses.

Time to knock monoclonal antibodies off the platform for patients hospitalised with COVID-19

Lancet Infect Dis

2021 Adrienne Shapiro; Rachel Bender Ignacio


Early Remdesivir to Prevent Progression to Severe Covid-19 in Outpatients

N Engl J Med

2021 Joshua Schiffer; Joshua Hill

BACKGROUND: Remdesivir improves clinical outcomes in patients hospitalized with moderate-to-severe coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Whether the use of remdesivir in symptomatic, nonhospitalized patients with Covid-19 who are at high risk for disease progression prevents hospitalization is uncertain. METHODS: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving nonhospitalized patients with Covid-19 who had symptom onset within the previous 7 days and who had at least one risk factor for disease progression (age 60 years, obesity, or certain coexisting medical conditions). Patients were randomly assigned to receive intravenous remdesivir (200 mg on day 1 and 100 mg on days 2 and 3) or placebo. The primary efficacy end point was a composite of Covid-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause by day 28. The primary safety end point was any adverse event. A secondary end point was a composite of a Covid-19-related medically attended visit or death from any cause by day 28. RESULTS: A total of 562 patients who underwent randomization and received at least one dose of remdesivir or placebo were included in the analyses: 279 patients in the remdesivir group and 283 in the placebo group. The mean age was 50 years, 47.9% of the patients were women, and 41.8% were Hispanic or Latinx. The most common coexisting conditions were diabetes mellitus (61.6%), obesity (55.2%), and hypertension (47.7%). Covid-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause occurred in 2 patients (0.7%) in the remdesivir group and in 15 (5.3%) in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.13; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.03 to 0.59; P=0.008). A total of 4 of 246 patients (1.6%) in the remdesivir group and 21 of 252 (8.3%) in the placebo group had a Covid-19-related medically attended visit by day 28 (hazard ratio, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.07 to 0.56). No patients had died by day 28. Adverse events occurred in 42.3% of the patients in the remdesivir group and in 46.3% of those in the placebo group. CONCLUSIONS: Among nonhospitalized patients who were at high risk for Covid-19 progression, a 3-day course of remdesivir had an acceptable safety profile and resulted in an 87% lower risk of hospitalization or death than placebo. (Funded by Gilead Sciences; PINETREE number, NCT04501952; EudraCT number, 2020-003510-12.).

Early Detection Initiative: A randomized controlled trial of algorithm-based screening in patients with new onset hyperglycemia and diabetes for early detection of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Contemp Clin Trials

2022 Ying Huang; Ziding Feng; Yingqi Zhao

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the only leading cause of cancer death without an early detection strategy. In retrospective studies, 0.5-1% of subjects >50 years of age who newly develop biochemically-defined diabetes have been diagnosed with PDAC within 3 years of meeting new onset hyperglycemia and diabetes (NOD) criteria. The Enriching New-onset Diabetes for Pancreatic Cancer (ENDPAC) algorithm further risk stratifies NOD subjects based on age and changes in weight and diabetes parameters. We present the methodology for the Early Detection Initiative (EDI), a randomized controlled trial of algorithm-based screening in patients with NOD for early detection of PDAC. We hypothesize that study interventions (risk stratification with ENDPAC and imaging with Computerized Tomography (CT) scan) in NOD will identify earlier stage PDAC. EDI uses a modified Zelen's design with post-randomization consent. Eligible subjects will be identified through passive surveillance of electronic medical records and eligible study participants randomized 1:1 to the Intervention or Observation arm. The sample size is 12,500 subjects. The ENDPAC score will be calculated only in those randomized to the Intervention arm, with 50% (n = 3125) expected to have a high ENDPAC score. Consenting subjects in the high ENDPAC group will undergo CT imaging for PDAC detection and an estimate of potential harm. The effectiveness and efficacy evaluation will compare proportions of late stage PDAC between Intervention and Observation arm per randomization assignment or per protocol, respectively, with a planned interim analysis. The study is designed to improve the detection of sporadic PDAC when surgical intervention is possible.

The Seattle Flu Study: when regulations hinder pandemic surveillance

Nat Med

2021 Debbie Nickerson; Lea Starita; Jay Shendure; Michael Boeckh; Janet Englund; Christina Lockwood


Drug Combinations as a First Line of Defense against Coronaviruses and Other Emerging Viruses


2021 Rachel Bender Ignacio; Shuang Xu; Joshua Schiffer; Stephan Polyak

The world was unprepared for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and remains ill-equipped for future pandemics. While unprecedented strides have been made developing vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, there remains a need for highly effective and widely available regimens for ambulatory use for novel coronaviruses and other viral pathogens. We posit that a priority is to develop pan-family drug cocktails to enhance potency, limit toxicity, and avoid drug resistance. We urge cocktail development for all viruses with pandemic potential both in the short term (<1 to 2 years) and longer term with pairs of drugs in advanced clinical testing or repurposed agents approved for other indications. While significant efforts were launched against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), in vitro and in the clinic, many studies employed solo drugs and had disappointing results. Here, we review drug combination studies against SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses and introduce a model-driven approach to assess drug pairs with the highest likelihood of clinical efficacy. Where component agents lack sufficient potency, we advocate for synergistic combinations to achieve therapeutic levels. We also discuss issues that stymied therapeutic progress against COVID-19, including testing of agents with low likelihood of efficacy late in clinical disease and lack of focus on developing virologic surrogate endpoints. There is a need to expedite efficient clinical trials testing drug combinations that could be taken at home by recently infected individuals and exposed contacts as early as possible during the next pandemic, whether caused by a coronavirus or another viral pathogen. The approach herein represents a proactive plan for global viral pandemic preparedness.

Single-cell immunology of SARS-CoV-2 infection

Nat Biotechnol

2021 Michael Zager; Yuan Tian; Raphael Gottardo; Lindsay Carpp; Helen Rodgers Miller; Evan Newell

Gaining a better understanding of the immune cell subsets and molecular factors associated with protective or pathological immunity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-2 could aid the development of vaccines and therapeutics for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Single-cell technologies, such as flow cytometry, mass cytometry, single-cell transcriptomics and single-cell multi-omic profiling, offer considerable promise in dissecting the heterogeneity of immune responses among individual cells and uncovering the molecular mechanisms of COVID-19 pathogenesis. Single-cell immune-profiling studies reported to date have identified innate and adaptive immune cell subsets that correlate with COVID-19 disease severity, as well as immunological factors and pathways of potential relevance to the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. For facilitation of integrative studies and meta-analyses into the immunology of SARS-CoV-2 infection, we provide standardized, download-ready versions of 21 published single-cell sequencing datasets (over 3.2 million cells in total) as well as an interactive visualization portal for data exploration.

HIV reservoir quantification by five-target multiplex droplet digital PCR

STAR Protoc

2021 Florian Hladik; Dara Lehman; Chelsea Amstuz; Keith Jerome

Most latent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) proviruses are defective and cannot produce infectious virions. Thus, the number of HIV proviruses with intact genomes is a relevant clinical parameter to assess therapies for HIV cure. We describe high-molecular-weight DNA isolation, followed by restriction enzyme fragmentation that limits cutting within the HIV genome. Multiplexed droplet digital PCR quantifies five targets spanning the HIV genome to estimate potentially intact proviral copies. A reference assay counts the number of T lymphocytes and assesses the level of DNA shearing. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Levy et al. (2021).

Association between rectal gonorrhoea and HIV incidence in men who have sex with men: a meta-analysis

Sex Transm Infect

2021 Deborah Donnell

BACKGROUND: Incidence of rectal gonorrhoea (GC) has been hypothesised as a correlate of HIV exposure in prevention trials of men who have sex with men (MSM). High rectal GC incidence in MSM trials of new biomedical prevention drugs may provide supportive evidence for ongoing HIV risk. Empirical evidence of correlation between rectal GC and HIV incidence is needed to assess whether high rectal GC rates reliably correlate with high risk of HIV. METHODS: Rectal GC and HIV are routinely tested in sexual health clinics (SHCs) throughout England. Through routine surveillance data collected at visits to SHCs, we assessed HIV incidence and new rectal GC diagnoses in repeat visits by HIV-negative MSM between 2011 and 2018, predating widespread roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis. Meta-analysis regression assessed population-level association between HIV and rectal GC incidence over time. FINDINGS: Between 2011 and 2018, HIV and rectal GC incidence was assessed in 541 056 HIV-negative MSM attending SHCs in England. HIV incidence among MSM attending SHCs fell from 1.26/100 person-years (PYs) in 2011 to 0.28/100 PYs in 2018. Rectal GC rates increased from 3.5/100 PYs to 11.1/100 PYs over the same period. The rate of HIV incidence decreased by 22.3% for each percent increase in rectal GC (95%CI -30.8 to -14.7, p<0.001). INTERPRETATION: Among the population of MSM attending SHCs in England, rectal GC rates increased substantially while HIV incidence rates decreased between 2011 and 2018. HIV incidence likely decreased through expanded HIV testing, prompt antiretroviral treatment (ART) initiation and increased viral suppression in persons living with HIV, interventions that did not decrease rectal GC. Rectal GC may not be an ideal proxy for HIV incidence in trials, as HIV exposure risk is complex and context dependent, given effective HIV prevention interventions in MSM. INTRODUCTION: