Haematology patients generate a strong T-cell response after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, despite being immunocompromised, Australian researchers have reported. The patients generate strong cellular immune responses after three doses on par with that of healthy individuals.
The research team was led jointly by Professor Katherine Kedzierska of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, and Dr Benjamin Teh of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, both in Melbourne.
The researchers say their study is the most comprehensive analysis yet of adaptive SARS-CoV-2 immunity to date in haematology patients of varying diseases and treatments across three doses of COVID-19 vaccination in comparison to healthy individuals. The results are published in Cell Reports Medicine.
Dr Oanh Nguyen, senior research fellow at the Doherty Institute and joint first author, said: “This group is at high risk of viral infectious diseases, such as influenza and SARS-CoV-2, and yet they are not always included in pre-clinical trials that test vaccine efficacy.
“Our study shows that they highly benefit from receiving three doses of vaccination. The vaccines boost their levels of T cells, the white blood cells that kill viral infected cells, irrespective of the patient’s B-cell numbers and antibody response.
“We also looked at the characteristics of these T cells that are generated after vaccination, and we found that these signatures are very similar to healthy individuals that are either infected or vaccinated. These findings are really important and super exciting for cancer patients.”
Prof Kedzierska says the study provides key insights for future immunisation strategies with vaccines such as influenza, which predominantly induce B cell immune responses.
“What we have shown is that people with co-morbidities that have a heavily impacted B cell immune arm, can have an mRNA vaccine to elicit T cells and give them that extra level of protection,” she said.
Nguyen THO, Rowntree LC, Allen LF, Chua BY, Kedzierski L, Lim C, Lasica M, Tennakoon GS, Saunders NR, Crane M, Chee L, Seymour JF, Anderson MA, Whitechurch A, Clemens EB, Zhang W, Chang SY, Habel JR, Jia X, McQuilten HA, Minervina AA, Pogorelyy MV, Chaurasia P, Petersen J, Menon T, Hensen L, Neil J, Mordant FL, Tan HX, Cabug AF, Wheatley AK, Kent SJ, Subbarao K, Karapanagiotidis T, Huang H, Vo LK, Cain NL, Nicholson S, Krammer F, Gibney G, James F, Trevillyan JM, Trubiano JA, Mitchell J, Christensen B, Bond KA, Williamson DA, Rossjohn J, Crawford JC, Thomas PG, Thursky KA, Slavin MA, Tam CS, Teh BW and Kedzierska K (2023) “COVID vaccine induces robust T cell responses in blood cancer patients.” Cell Reports Medicine, doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2023.101017
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