Additional immunity with T cells after new hepatitis B vaccination


After a vaccination, cells known as B cells produce antibodies to boost our immunity. But those who already have what are known as T cells, a different type of white blood cell, have been found to have additional immunity after receiving a new hepatitis B vaccination.

Researchers at the University of Antwerp arrived at this discovery during an innovative and multidisciplinary study. Vaccinologists, immunologists, geneticists, and computer scientists joined forces to work on the project almost seven years ago and have now developed new techniques in artificial intelligence to map our immune system. This proved to be very difficult with conventional genomic techniques because each individual possesses a unique set of T cells. The research team taught computers to decipher the genetic language of the T cells and turn it into an immunity map for an individual.

The challenge now is to introduce the large range of potential applications of this new technology into society as efficiently and widely as possible. As a university is too small-scale for this, the researchers set up the company ImmuneWatch. The intention is to eventually find new treatments for cancer or autoimmune diseases or to develop a safe, effective and even individually tailored vaccine entirely using a computer, without animal testing.

Furthermore, it was noted that an increased number of T cells also seems to provide adequate protection against COVID-19 infection.