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Do you need a COVID Booster?

Take a look at this headline: “Scientists Demand FDA Recognize T cells“. The article is on behalf of the poor, neglected T cell that is doing all the work behind the scenes driving protective immunity. Why do we care? Because more COVID-19 boosters are being recommended, even though some experts question the utility of broad booster vaccination.

Indeed, according to a recent article in Science Immunology “…mounting evidence suggests [that] T-cell contributions to the host immune response are required for early, broad, and durable protection from SARS-CoV-2, especially in the setting of new variants of concern (VOC)”. Which is why we should measure T cell response and see how they correlate with vaccine efficacy. 

There are reasons to believe that better vaccines will involve T cell epitopes. As if you needed more evidence, Hans-Georg Rammensee, one of the world’s leading experts on T cell epitope-driven vaccines, showed that just six T cell epitopes can generate immune responses in vaccinated individuals that appear to be superior to the effect induced by mRNA vaccines! Check it out!  

California Dreaming

Katie Porter and I drove from LA to Ventura in a late model Mustang in early April for the GRC’s Biotherapeutics and Vaccines Development meeting. Inspired by the Left Coast setting, I decided to challenge the audience to a thought experiment and presented “Why Not Develop Personalized Vaccines (and biologics!) for the Next Pandemic? Yes, We Can.”

That’s because precision medicine is no longer a pipe dream. We have the capacity to personalize vaccines. Beyond cancer, why not envision the ability to modify all immunotherapy, whether biologic or vaccine, based on HLA background? We are highly likely to improve patient outcomes.

It took the immunogenicity field 10 years to come around to “T cells are an ADA determinant”. Will it take another 10 to realize that the one-size-fits-all approach to vaccination is ineffective? Is it time to take the idea that we could personalize immunotherapy seriously? Want to know more? You can request my slides here!

While we’re on T cells:
Tregitope Summit is coming up!

That’s right! The 1st Annual Tregitope Summit is happening on May 16th in Boston! Come find out more about Treg epitope a.k.a Tregitope research.

Interested in attending? We have a limited number of seats left for this free event. Register here to save a spot.

Puzzled about Immunogenicity?
Take a look at HCP!

HCPs (host cell proteins) also known as “process-related impurities” are in the COVID-19 vaccine news these days (e.g. – Vaccine-induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VTT), a rare autoimmune condition that may have been triggered by HCP binding to PF4, the target antigen). We’ve been looking at HCPs for a while – they provide an interesting example of the balance between foreign and self. This means, of course, that JanusMatrix is involvedWant to know more? EpiVax puts on a monthly webinar training for our ISPRI clients, and this one is open to everyone who is interested in attending. Register here!

EpiVax developed ISPRI-HCP to specifically assess HCP immunogenicity risk. One of our case studies will be PLBL2, an HCP impurity uncovered during phase III clinical trials of the product Lebrikizumab.

In Person! World Vaccine Congress

Well, EpiVax’s JanusMatrix platform didn’t get a VIE award for “Best New Vaccine Technology/Platform” this year, although I will say it was nice to be a finalist😊

I presented “Developing a Highly Conserved, Non-human-like, and Cross-reactive Peptide T cell Epitope COVID-19 Vaccine” and shared the on-going saga of EpiVax’s EPV-CoV19 vaccine candidate. We continue to make great strides towards our IND filing. Curious about the rationale for T cell vaccines? Check out “Lets Talk T cells” in my January column.

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