Discovery of a previously unknown pathway for the emergence of dangerous strains of the Corona virus
Russian scientists argue that coronavirus is able to evolve towards acquiring resistance not only to antibodies, but also to cellular immunity.
By monitoring the health of a patient with an “eternal” coronavirus infection, Russian scientists have discovered the first example of how the COVID-19 pathogen can develop and acquire resistance to cellular immunity as a result of long-term interaction with T cells. This was announced on Tuesday, February 14, by the press service of the Skolkovo Innovation Center.
Igor Bazykin, professor at the Russian University of Skoltykh, said: “We decided to test whether the virus provides protection against T-lymphocytes, and for this we studied the case of a long-term “coronavirus”, where the patient was infected with the Corona virus for 318 days. Our analysis showed : “During long-term infection, the coronavirus did accumulate mutations that were not recognized by the patient’s T-lymphocytes.”
Professor Bazykin and his colleagues have been tracking the spread of various strains of coronavirus in Russia since the beginning of the pandemic. Over the past two years, they have been able to identify several “eternal” infections with coronavirus and discover many rare variants of the COVID-19 pathogen that are unique to Russia.
In their new work, researchers from Skoltykh University and their colleagues from Russia and the United States found that the coronavirus not only cannot evolve and acquire resistance to antibodies, but also becomes less and less visible to T cells and other components. human cellular immunity.
The coronavirus infected a patient who was being treated for cancer, and its side effect was the suppression of the antibody synthesis process. As a result, she developed an “eternal” form of coronavirus infection that lasted more than 300 days due to the patient’s lack of antibodies capable of combining with SARS-CoV-2 particles.
The researchers followed the interaction of coronavirus particles with components of cellular immunity. To do this, they compared the interaction activity of the patient’s T-cell receptors with the types of SARS-CoV-2 that appeared in her body as the disease progressed.
It turned out that the long-term “neighborhood” of immune cells and coronavirus particles led to the appearance of about 40 new mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome, 12 of which were directly associated with resistance to cellular immunity. Their appearance changed the structure of the shell of the latter in such a way that T cells were less often recognized by characteristic outgrowths on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 membrane.
Professor Bazykin and his colleagues summarized the case by saying that the calculations showed that this coronavirus became more dangerous and less noticeable not only for the cellular immunity of this patient, but also for a large number of other people. This indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is able to evolve towards acquiring resistance not only to antibodies, but also to cellular immunity.