Scientists in the laboratories of the Center for Cell and Tissue Engineering of the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne´s University Hospital Brno (FNUSA-ICRC) obtained blood samples from 84 volunteers for research on cellular immunity. 47 of them suffered from COVID-19, and other volunteers were used by researchers to show that people who did not have the disease had unmeasurable levels of specific immunity to the coronavirus. Therefore, it can be clearly demonstrated who encountered COVID-19 and who did not.
The samples were first incubated with the viral proteins and next day researchers analyzed them on a flow cytometer. “We investigated whether there are memory cells among them, which the body creates exclusively after contact with the disease. The memory cells then respond in a test tube to the pieces of virus by producing specific interferon. Thanks to that, we will measure how many such cells a person has, “said Dr. Irena Koutná, Head of the FNUSA-ICRC Center for Cell and Tissue Engineering, added: “We found that the variability of the memory trace among people who underwent the disease is very wide. They are individuals with a weak and strong footprint. It will be very important to know how the numbers of cells will vary in about five to six months, so we will monitor the dynamics of the decrease in the number of these cells over time. These data will give us the answer to the question of whether patients who have suffered from the disease cannot come again within half a year, for example. ”
The second phase of the project will take place in the autumn, when donors will be invited to take blood again so that they can repeat the experiment at the FNUSA-ICRC Center for Cell and Tissue Engineering. “This would provide information about the development of the immune system some time after the infection. And we would also find out whether the immune system is able to respond to SARS COV2 with the same intensity and whether the same subpopulations of immune cells are involved, or whether the spectrum has changed, “said Dr. Koutná.
The closest scientific goal is to publish the measured data and present to the professional public how memory immunity behaves. “By analyzing the obtained data, we would like to elevate the research method to a clear diagnostic tool for determining immune memory against COVID-19. At the same time, we discuss whether patients with high levels of cellular immunity can serve as donors of specific cells for the treatment of acutely serious patients. We are considering that we will establish cooperation with another scientific department that deals with the development of the vaccine, “added Dr. Koutná.