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Researchers identify potential new targets for next-generation COVID-19 vaccines

Excerpt from the Press Release:

Current COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease, including infection caused by known variants of concern. But new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus could potentially evade immunity, so vaccine makers have already started developing next-generation vaccines. Recent research has suggested that new vaccines that more potently stimulate the immune system’s T cells may provide longer-lasting protection against the virus, particularly against new variants.

A new study published in Cell has revealed new ways next-generation vaccines could potentially stimulate T cells against the virus. Scientists analyzed previously overlooked parts of the virus’s genome and uncovered a surprisingly large fraction of key viral protein fragments, or peptides, that triggered stronger T cell responses than other known peptides. The findings, from researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Boston University, and others, could help vaccine makers identify better viral targets for future vaccines that stimulate durable immunity against the evolving COVID-19 virus.

“Scientists are thinking about incorporating components invoking T cell responses into the next generation of vaccines because it seems like they might provide prolonged infection against new emerging variants,” said Shira Weingarten-Gabbay, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of institute member Pardis Sabeti at the Broad and co-first author of the study.

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