Covid & ethnic minorities: are there differences in immune response

Oxford Immunotec’s T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit will be used for T cell testing in a study being carried out in collaboration with researchers at the University of Leicester.

The  DIRECT study (Determining the Immune Response in Ethnic minority healthcare workers to Covid-19 infecTion) is recruiting healthcare workers in Leicester for detailed analysis of their immune response to infection and/or vaccination (including T cells). This analysis, together with information collected through online questionnaires, will enable researchers to understand whether there are differences in the immune response in different ethnic minority groups, including whether there are differences in the magnitude and duration of this response.

The custom version of the T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit (for research use only) will be used to assess if the vaccination induces a T cell response in study subjects. The kit uses the T-SPOT technology platform, a commercialised, modified ELISPOT platform, which allows for the standardised and reproducible measurement of T cells reactive to SARS-CoV-2. Testing for an immune response using T cells may offer several advantages over conventional antibody testing due to the limitations reported with antibodies, such as antibodies not being present after infection and antibodies waning over time. The T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 test has also demonstrated in previous studies that a high SARS-CoV-2 specific T cell response may be associated with protection from infection.

Dr. Peter Wrighton-Smith, CEO of Oxford Immunotec said: “We are proud to be partnering with the University of Leicester on this critical clinical trial which will help drive the understanding of the effects of Covid-19 across different ethnic groups.”

Dr Manish Pareek, Principal Investigator of DIRECT said: “The immune system is critical to the outcome of Covid-19, including protection against future infection. This study, utilising a wide range of immune measures including the T-SPOT technology developed by Oxford Immunotec, will allow us to determine differences in the immune response to Covid-19 amongst different ethnic minority groups, which is vital if we are to understand why individuals from ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.”

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