The Consortium-supported research project will combine Repertoire's state-of-the-art experimental platform, which measures T Cell Receptor (TCR)-antigen interactions at single-cell resolution, and then simulates these interactions on AWS. The goal is to identify those SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that have the highest likelihood of inducing long-term immunity when delivered through vaccines.
Long-term protection requires the development of T cell memory. Unlike antibodies, T cells find those cells infected by a virus such as COVID-19 by identifying virus-derived antigen molecules (epitopes) displayed on the surface of infected cells through their TCR, and then kill those cells and orchestrate a productive, long-term immune response.
"The dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infection is yet to be fully understood, and it is unknown whether patients acquire long-term immunity to the virus following initial infection", stated Daniel Pregibon, Ph.D., SVP, Head of Platform Discovery and Technology, Repertoire Immune Medicines. "The majority of current investigations into COVID-19 vaccines focus on the B cell derived antibody responses to a handful of viral targets, typically those derived from the spike, membrane and nucleocapsid proteins. Our immune decoding capabilities have the potential to identify antigen molecules that induce a robust T cell response for inclusion in vaccines, and reveal the key to long-term immunity resulting from responses to any protein of SARS-CoV-2, or other cross-reactive coronaviruses, which will significantly expand the scope of vaccine development."
Through prior decoding of numerous T cell receptor-antigen interactions in high-performance computing environments, Repertoire has already operationalized the underlying experimental biology and computational infrastructure necessary to begin this project. The company intends to submit a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal shortly after project completion.