Study paves the way for new treatments, vaccines that lead to stronger immunity against COVID-19

Why do some people get seriously ill with Covid-19, while others have no symptoms at all? The answer may lie in the proteins our immune system has previously been exposed to. A recent study in the open access journal Frontiers in Immunology He found that common foods, vaccines, bacteria and viruses may trigger our immune system to attack SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. All of these agents contain proteins similar to those found in SARS-CoV-2. As such, exposure to these proteins may train our immune system to respond when it encounters the virus. The study paves the way for new immunotherapies or vaccines that lead to stronger immunity against Covid-19.

SARS-CoV-2: Comfort in the ordinary?

SARS-CoV-2 is new, and a pandemic can make him feel like an alien invader from another planet. However, it actually shares features with many existing biological molecules.

As a member of the coronavirus family, SARS-CoV-2 shares many characteristics with other viruses, but the similarities do not end there. Proteins found in bacteria, human cells, vaccines, and even foods may share similarities with those found in SARS-CoV-2. The researchers behind this latest study hypothesized that the similarities between SARS-CoV-2 and other common proteins may influence our susceptibility to the virus.

When our bodies are attacked by a pathogen, such as a virus or bacteria, it triggers an immune response that includes antibodies. These immune proteins attach to certain parts of the pathogen and contribute to its destruction. After the initial infection has subsided, white blood cells called memory T and B cells will retain the memory of the pathogen, or at least certain parts of its structure. These cells will be ready to mount an immune response very quickly if they encounter the pathogen again.

Antibody cross reaction test

Could such an ‘immunological memory’ of proteins that we have encountered in the past have weak immunity and reduced susceptibility to Covid-19? To begin testing this hypothesis, these researchers investigated whether antibodies targeting proteins in SARS-CoV-2 could also bind to proteins in other agents, such as common foods or bacteria.

The researchers tested the ability of these antibodies to bind to 180 different proteins from common foods, two different vaccines, and 15 bacterial and viral proteins. The antibodies reacted strongly with common gut bacteria called E. faecalis A vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. Interestingly, they also reacted strongly with proteins found in common foods, including broccoli, roasted almonds, pork, cashews, milk, soybeans and pineapple.

Eat for immunity?

Unfortunately, you will likely not be able to eat your way to Covid-19 immunity. For example, “immunity” to a food type is usually characterized by a food allergy. “Usually only people with leaky gut can make antibodies against food, so I wouldn’t recommend eating foods that give you leaky gut, as this would give you a whole new set of,” said Dr. Aristo Fodjani of Cyrex Laboratories in Arizona. problems.” , lead author of the study.

In fact, the researchers caution that although these agents can offer some protection against SARS-CoV-2, they do not envision them as an alternative to current vaccines. In addition, further testing is needed to confirm that these proteins indeed confer some protection and, if so, whether it is mediated by the short-lived antibody response or the long-term memory cell response.

The findings may shed some light on our changing responses to Covid-19 infection. With more research, these findings could lead to more effective treatments or better vaccines against the virus. Another application may lie in assessing an individual’s susceptibility to the virus before they become infected.