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Discovery & Development Drug Discovery, Advanced Medicine

Better Use Case

Antonio Bertoletti, a professor at the Emerging Infectious Diseases programme, Duke-NUS Medical School.

Though TCR  therapies are typically associated with treating cancer, researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School believe they could offer therapeutic value in various infectious diseases, including hepatitis B (HBV), HIV, and COVID-19 (1).

“There is more definitive data showing that virus-specific CD8 T cells (white blood cells that kill damaged cells) are important for the control of viral infections than solid cancers. But most cell therapies target tumors,” says Antonio Bertoletti, a professor at Duke-NUS Medical School. “This pushed us to investigate whether similar results could be achieved in HBV and COVID-19.”

The team has already demonstrated how TCR T cells target SARS, and now aim to investigate how the same therapeutic methodology could be applied to SARS-CoV- 2 (COVID-19). They also plan to investigate the role of different components of the immune system in the control of SARS-CoV-2.

“We need to understand whether antibodies or T cells are more important for control of infectious disease,” says Bertoletti. “Developing a better understanding of these factors will be crucial to design effective treatment strategies.”

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  1. A Bertoletti and A Tanoto Tan, “Challenges of CAR- and TCR-T cell–based therapy for chronic infections”, J Exp Med, 217, (2020).
About the Author
Maryam Mahdi

Deputy Editor

After finishing my degree, I envisioned a career in science communications. However, life took an unexpected turn and I ended up teaching abroad. Though the experience was amazing and I learned a great deal from it, I jumped at the opportunity to work for Texere. I'm excited to see where this new journey takes me!

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