Modified T Cells Boost Transplant Patients’ COVID-19 Defenses

(Reuters) – A technique for modifying virus-attacking T cells might help defend against COVID-19 in transplant recipients reciving drugs that suppress the immune system, preliminary findings suggest.

German researchers have found that COVID survivors’ T cells can be genetically modified to make them resistant to tacrolimus. In test-tube experiments, treatment with tacrolimus did not inhibit the ability of the modified T cells to recognize and attack the coronavirus, according to a report published in Molecular Therapy: Methods and Clinical Development.

The researchers are planning a trial in which the tacrolimus-resistant T cells will be infused into human volunteers.

“With this strategy, virus-specific T cells can fight against SARS-CoV-2 despite ongoing immunosuppression in the patient,” said Michael Schmuck-Henneresse of Charite-Universitatsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health.

“Our approach to make T cells resistant to tacrolimus can theoretically be transferred to different immunosuppressants and (viruses) by adapting the manufacturing protocol and thus has great potential for a wide range of applications,” he said.

SOURCE: Molecular Therapy: Methods and Clinical Development, online February 26, 2022.

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