The Global T cell Expert Consortium (GTEC) officially kicked-off on December 16 with eleven founding members from eight labs across three continents all focused on maximising the use and direction of T cell research in the global battle against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
According to the eminent group of world-leading experts in T cell research, epidemiology, vaccine research and global public health, the path to long-term control of COVID-19 will require a combination of antibody and T cell assessments, standardisation in research, and increased data pools – which are critical areas that the GTEC intends to tackle.
GTEC Chair, Danny Altmann, Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London, commented: “We already have evidence that T cells are produced to diverse epitopes during SARS-CoV-2 infection and that responses may be more durable than serum antibodies post-infection. There is growing interest in looking at T cells to support diagnosis, and in assessing immunity, in particular as we look to assess the impact of the various vaccines as they come on stream. But there’s an urgent need for more focus and consistency in our efforts.”
While these elite scientists are deeply familiar with each other’s work, this is the first time that such a group has come together formally, and the GTEC will operate as a virtual community with sights set on prolonged engagement. In addition to the experts collaborating to maximise the greatest potential in T cell testing and research, the immediate goals of the GTEC are to:
• Drive further research into the role of T cell measurement for SARS-CoV-2
• Increase education on the role of T cells in immunity
• Stimulate creation of new, innovative research studies by facilitating enhanced networking amongst T cell researchers
The GTEC is open to enquiries from the medical and broader community through its dedicated website www.tcellexperts.com and welcomes engagement that aligns with its core mission. In support of its educational goals, the GTEC has released the first two in a series of podcasts designed to inspire researchers, answer questions and take on challenges.
Professor Altmann concluded: “We’ve gone from a standing start to racing forwarding in a period of ten months. We know more about immunity to this infection [SARS-CoV-2] than we know about some other viruses that we’ve been aware of for 100 years. Now is absolutely the right time for us to galvanise this engagement more deeply and broadly across the world. More than ever, we require a greater understanding of the immune response, the role of T cells in cell-mediated immunity against infectious diseases such as COVID-19, and how we can harness T cell responses in the fight against COVID-19. Ultimately, we must ensure continued momentum and preparedness to swiftly take action against whatever infectious disease might be next – we will not stand still.”
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