Flurry of T-cell news and interesting the level of science facts that general readers need to keep up with to understand emerging COVID news in major newspapers.
LA Times on T-Cells
In the LA Times, Berkeley's Marc Hellerstein publishes a long piece on the role of T-cells in the COVID immune response. See the LA Times piece here, and a Fall 2020 Berkeley interview with Hellerstein here. The article is complimented by a 30-minute video interview with Hellerstein and Prof. Otto Yang of UCLA - here. The interview is led by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who is both CEO of NantHealth and owner of the LA Times.
NYT on Immunocomprise and Vaccination
Concurrently, NYT runs an essay by Prof. Candida Moss (University of Birmingham) discusses her life as a transplant recipient, fully vaccinated, but without detectable anti-COVID antibodies. Here.
Adaptive Biotechnologies Commercializes T-Detect COVID Test
In the last several months, Adaptive Technologies has commercialized an NGS-based blood test that reports both natural and vaccinated response to COVID by T-cell DNA analysis. See the FDA press release here, the FDA EUA document here, the lab test's website here.
I ordered T-Detect on March 22, and elected to try the at-home mobile blood draw, which came on March 30. (In between there was an order by PWNHealth, recently acquired by Everywell). The test report was issued by email on April 7 - and was positive, as expected, since I was fully vaccinated by March 30.
There have been several molecular tests that really caught my attention. One was the Genomic Health Oncotype Dx test in the 1995 era - because it could predict clinical outcomes based only on RNA extracted from an otherwise obscure paraffin block. Another was the PathWorks tumor of unknown origin test a few years later - identifying the likely tissue of origin of an unknown cancer by RNA expression and no other clinical or pathological information.
Here, the T-Detect test seems remarkable because the human body is able to produce millions of T-cell receptors, and making the link from the raw DNA sequence alone, and no clinical information, to the biological immune response is a new and remarkable thing.