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The webinar entitled “COVID Without Borders-A collaboration to Investigate A New Disease III – Diagnostic and Treatment for COVID-19” was held online on the morning of November 17th 2020, jointly organized by Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) and CAMS-Oxford Institute (COI).
The Duration, Dynamics, and Determinants of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Antibody Responses in Individual Healthcare Workers
Abstract Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody measurements can be used to estimate the proportion of a population exposed or infected and may be informative about the risk of future infection. Previous estimates of the duration of antibody responses vary. Methods We present 6 months of data from a longitudinal seroprevalence study of 3276 UK healthcare workers (HCWs). Serial measurements of SARS-CoV-2 anti-nucleocapsid and anti-spike IgG were obtained. Interval censored survival analysis was used to investigate the duration of detectable responses. Additionally, Bayesian mixed linear models were used to investigate anti-nucleocapsid waning. Results Anti-spike IgG levels remained stably detected after a positive result, for example, in 94% (95% credibility interval [CrI] 91–96%) of HCWs at 180 days. Anti-nucleocapsid IgG levels rose to a peak at 24 (95% CrI 19–31) days post first polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive test, before beginning to fall. Considering 452 anti-nucleocapsid seropositive HCWs over a median of 121 days from their maximum positive IgG titer, the mean estimated antibody half-life was 85 (95% CrI 81–90) days. Higher maximum observed anti-nucleocapsid titers were associated with longer estimated antibody half-lives. Increasing age, Asian ethnicity, and prior self-reported symptoms were independently associated with higher maximum anti-nucleocapsid levels and increasing age and a positive PCR test undertaken for symptoms with longer anti-nucleocapsid half-lives. Conclusions SARS-CoV-2 anti-nucleocapsid antibodies wane within months and fall faster in younger adults and those without symptoms. However, anti-spike IgG remains stably detected. Ongoing longitudinal studies are required to track the long-term duration of antibody levels and their association with immunity to SARS-CoV-2 reinfection.
Kawasaki Disease Patient Stratification and Pathway Analysis Based on Host Transcriptomic and Proteomic Profiles.
The aetiology of Kawasaki disease (KD), an acute inflammatory disorder of childhood, remains unknown despite various triggers of KD having been proposed. Host 'omic profiles offer insights into the host response to infection and inflammation, with the interrogation of multiple 'omic levels in parallel providing a more comprehensive picture. We used differential abundance analysis, pathway analysis, clustering, and classification techniques to explore whether the host response in KD is more similar to the response to bacterial or viral infections at the transcriptomic and proteomic levels through comparison of 'omic profiles from children with KD to those with bacterial and viral infections. Pathways activated in patients with KD included those involved in anti-viral and anti-bacterial responses. Unsupervised clustering showed that the majority of KD patients clustered with bacterial patients on both 'omic levels, whilst application of diagnostic signatures specific for bacterial and viral infections revealed that many transcriptomic KD samples had low probabilities of having bacterial or viral infections, suggesting that KD may be triggered by a different process not typical of either common bacterial or viral infections. Clustering based on the transcriptomic and proteomic responses during KD revealed three clusters of KD patients on both 'omic levels, suggesting heterogeneity within the inflammatory response during KD. The observed heterogeneity may reflect differences in the host response to a common trigger, or variation dependent on different triggers of the condition.
Aspirin in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 (RECOVERY): a randomised, controlled, open-label, platform trial
SUMMARYBackgroundAspirin has been proposed as a treatment for COVID-19 on the basis of its antithrombotic properties.MethodsIn this randomised, controlled, open-label platform trial, several possible treatments were compared with usual care in patients hospitalised with COVID-19. Eligible and consenting adults were randomly allocated in a 1:1 ratio to either usual standard of care plus 150mg aspirin once daily until discharge or usual standard of care alone using web-based simple (unstratified) randomisation with allocation concealment. The primary outcome was 28-day mortality. The trial is registered with ISRCTN (50189673) and clinicaltrials.gov (NCT04381936).FindingsBetween 01 November 2020 and 21 March 2021, 7351 patients were randomly allocated to receive aspirin and 7541 patients to receive usual care alone. Overall, 1222 (17%) patients allocated to aspirin and 1299 (17%) patients allocated to usual care died within 28 days (rate ratio 0·96; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0·89-1·04; p=0·35). Consistent results were seen in all pre-specified subgroups of patients. Patients allocated to aspirin had a slightly shorter duration of hospitalisation (median 8 vs. 9 days) and a higher proportion were discharged from hospital alive within 28 days (75% vs. 74%; rate ratio 1·06; 95% CI 1·02-1·10; p=0·0062). Among those not on invasive mechanical ventilation at baseline, there was no significant difference in the proportion meeting the composite endpoint of invasive mechanical ventilation or death (21% vs. 22%; risk ratio 0·96; 95% CI 0·90-1·03; p=0·23). Aspirin use was associated with an absolute reduction in thrombotic events of 0.6% (SE 0.4%) and an absolute increase in major bleeding events of 0.6% (SE 0.2%).InterpretationIn patients hospitalised with COVID-19, aspirin was not associated with reductions in 28-day mortality or in the risk of progressing to invasive mechanical ventilation or death but was associated with a small increase in the rate of being discharged alive within 28 days.FundingUK Research and Innovation (Medical Research Council), National Institute of Health Research (Grant ref: MC_PC_19056), and the Wellcome Trust (Grant Ref: 222406/Z/20/Z) through the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.
The GP130 cytokine receptor subunit encoded by IL6ST is the shared receptor for ten cytokines of the IL-6 family. We describe a homozygous non-synonymous variant in IL6ST (p.R281Q) in a patient with craniosynostosis and retained deciduous teeth. We characterize the impact of the variant on cytokine signaling in vitro using transfected cell lines as well as primary patient-derived cells and support these findings using a mouse model with the corresponding genome-edited variant Il6st p.R279Q. We show that human GP130 p.R281Q is associated with selective loss of IL-11 signaling without affecting IL-6, IL-27, OSM, LIF, CT1, CLC, and CNTF signaling. In mice Il6st p.R279Q lowers litter size and causes facial synostosis and teeth abnormalities. The effect on IL-11 signaling caused by the GP130 variant shows incomplete penetrance but phenocopies aspects of IL11RA deficiency in humans and mice. Our data show that a genetic variant in a pleiotropic cytokine receptor can have remarkably selective defects.
Higher academic institutions in the UK need to drive improvements in equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) through sustainable practical interventions. A broad view of inclusivity is based on an intersectional approach that considers race, geographical location, caring responsibilities, disability, neurodiversity, religion, and LGBTQIA+ identities. We describe the establishment of a diverse stakeholder group to develop practical grass-roots recommendations through which improvements can be advanced. We have developed a manifesto for change, comprising six domains through which academic institutions can drive progress through setting short, medium, and long-term priorities. Interventions will yield rewards in recruitment and retention of a diverse talent pool, leading to enhanced impact and output.
Recent years have seen unprecedented investment in research and development for countermeasures for high-threat pathogens, including specific and ambitious objectives for development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. The inadequate availability of biological reference materials for these pathogens poses a genuine obstacle in pursuit of these objectives, and the lack of a comprehensive and equitable framework for developing reference materials is a weakness. We outline the need for internationally standardized biological materials for high-threat pathogens as a core element of global health security. We also outline the key components of a framework for addressing this deficiency.
T cells rely for their development and function on the correct folding and turnover of proteins generated in response to a broad range of molecular cues. In the absence of the eukaryotic type II chaperonin complex, CCT, T cell activation induced changes in the proteome are compromised including the formation of nuclear actin filaments and the formation of a normal cell stress response. Consequently, thymocyte maturation and selection, and T cell homeostatic maintenance and receptor-mediated activation are severely impaired. In the absence of CCT-controlled protein folding, Th2 polarization diverges from normal differentiation with paradoxical continued IFN-γ expression. As a result, CCT-deficient T cells fail to generate an efficient immune protection against helminths as they are unable to sustain a coordinated recruitment of the innate and adaptive immune systems. These findings thus demonstrate that normal T cell biology is critically dependent on CCT-controlled proteostasis and that its absence is incompatible with protective immunity.
The tumour suppressor APC is the most commonly mutated gene in colorectal cancer. Loss of Apc in intestinal stem cells drives the formation of adenomas in mice via increased WNT signalling1, but reduced secretion of WNT ligands increases the ability of Apc-mutant intestinal stem cells to colonize a crypt (known as fixation)2. Here we investigated how Apc-mutant cells gain a clonal advantage over wild-type counterparts to achieve fixation. We found that Apc-mutant cells are enriched for transcripts that encode several secreted WNT antagonists, with Notum being the most highly expressed. Conditioned medium from Apc-mutant cells suppressed the growth of wild-type organoids in a NOTUM-dependent manner. Furthermore, NOTUM-secreting Apc-mutant clones actively inhibited the proliferation of surrounding wild-type crypt cells and drove their differentiation, thereby outcompeting crypt cells from the niche. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of NOTUM abrogated the ability of Apc-mutant cells to expand and form intestinal adenomas. We identify NOTUM as a key mediator during the early stages of mutation fixation that can be targeted to restore wild-type cell competitiveness and provide preventative strategies for people at a high risk of developing colorectal cancer.
SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected in blood samples from patients with COVID-19 is not associated with infectious virus
ABSTRACTBackgroundLaboratory diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection (the cause of COVID-19) uses PCR to detect viral RNA (vRNA) in respiratory samples. SARS-CoV-2 RNA has also been detected in other sample types, but there is limited understanding of the clinical or laboratory significance of its detection in blood.MethodsWe undertook a systematic literature review to assimilate the evidence for the frequency of vRNA in blood, and to identify associated clinical characteristics. We performed RT-PCR in serum samples from a UK clinical cohort of acute and convalescent COVID-19 cases (n=212), together with convalescent plasma samples collected by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) (n=111 additional samples). To determine whether PCR-positive blood samples could pose an infection risk, we attempted virus isolation from a subset of RNA-positive samples.ResultsWe identified 28 relevant studies, reporting SARS-CoV-2 RNA in 0-76% of blood samples; pooled estimate 10% (95%CI 5-18%). Among serum samples from our clinical cohort, 27/212 (12.7%) had SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected by RT-PCR. RNA detection occurred in samples up to day 20 post symptom onset, and was associated with more severe disease (multivariable odds ratio 7.5). Across all samples collected ≥28 days post symptom onset, 0/143 (0%, 95%CI 0.0-2.5%) had vRNA detected. Among our PCR-positive samples, cycle threshold (ct) values were high (range 33.5-44.8), suggesting low vRNA copy numbers. PCR-positive sera inoculated into cell culture did not produce any cytopathic effect or yield an increase in detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA.ConclusionsvRNA was detectable at low viral loads in a minority of serum samples collected in acute infection, but was not associated with infectious SARS-CoV-2 (within the limitations of the assays used). This work helps to inform biosafety precautions for handling blood products from patients with current or previous COVID-19.
ABSTRACTBackgroundThe COVID-19 pandemic caused >1 million infections during January-March 2020. There is an urgent need for reliable antibody detection approaches to support diagnosis, vaccine development, safe release of individuals from quarantine, and population lock-down exit strategies. We set out to evaluate the performance of ELISA and lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) devices.MethodsWe tested plasma for COVID (SARS-CoV-2) IgM and IgG antibodies by ELISA and using nine different LFIA devices. We used a panel of plasma samples from individuals who have had confirmed COVID infection based on a PCR result (n=40), and pre-pandemic negative control samples banked in the UK prior to December-2019 (n=142).ResultsELISA detected IgM or IgG in 34/40 individuals with a confirmed history of COVID infection (sensitivity 85%, 95%CI 70-94%), vs. 0/50 pre-pandemic controls (specificity 100% [95%CI 93-100%]). IgG levels were detected in 31/31 COVID-positive individuals tested ≥10 days after symptom onset (sensitivity 100%, 95%CI 89-100%). IgG titres rose during the 3 weeks post symptom onset and began to fall by 8 weeks, but remained above the detection threshold. Point estimates for the sensitivity of LFIA devices ranged from 55-70% versus RT-PCR and 65-85% versus ELISA, with specificity 95-100% and 93-100% respectively. Within the limits of the study size, the performance of most LFIA devices was similar.ConclusionsCurrently available commercial LFIA devices do not perform sufficiently well for individual patient applications. However, ELISA can be calibrated to be specific for detecting and quantifying SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG and is highly sensitive for IgG from 10 days following first symptoms.
CT appearances of pleural infection: analysis of the Second Multi-centre Intra-pleural Sepsis Trial (MIST 2) cohort.
AimTo determine the prevalence of pleural abnormalities and describe the computed tomography (CT) features observed in a well-characterised population of patients with pleural infection.Materials and methodsA retrospective study of a subgroup of patients from the Second Multi-centre Intra-pleural Sepsis Trial (MIST 2) trial was carried out. Patients were diagnosed with pleural infection on robust clinical criteria. CT examinations were assessed by three observers independently for the presence of predefined features. Planned subgroup comparisons of patients with and without evidence of parenchymal infection were performed.ResultsEighty-one patients were included. Parietal pleural thickening and enhancement were seen in 98.7% of patients. Visceral pleural changes were observed in most, including several previously undescribed features. Consolidation was observed in 61.7% of patients and there was a significant association of parenchymal consolidation with CT evidence of small airways infection (p<0.001) and visceral pleural thickening and enhancement (p<0.05). Features of parenchymal infection were absent in one third of patients.ConclusionThis study provides a comprehensive account of the parietal pleural, visceral pleural, and parenchymal changes of pleural infection on CT. Parenchymal infection is absent in a significant proportion of patients with pleural infection, suggesting that a pneumonic process may not be necessary for the development of pleural infection.
T cell assays differentiate clinical and subclinical SARS-CoV-2 infections from cross-reactive antiviral responses
AbstractA major issue in identification of protective T cell responses against SARS-CoV-2 lies in distinguishing people infected with SARS-CoV-2 from those with cross-reactive immunity generated by exposure to other coronaviruses. We characterised SARS-CoV-2 T cell immune responses in 168 PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infected subjects and 118 seronegative subjects without known SARS-CoV-2 exposure using a range of T cell assays that differentially capture immune cell function. Strong ex vivo ELISpot and proliferation responses to multiple antigens (including M, NP and ORF3) were found in those who had been infected by SARS-CoV-2 but were rare in pre-pandemic and unexposed seronegative subjects. However, seronegative doctors with high occupational exposure and recent COVID-19 compatible illness showed patterns of T cell responses characteristic of infection, indicating that these readouts are highly sensitive. By contrast, over 90% of convalescent or unexposed people showed proliferation and cellular lactate responses to spike subunits S1/S2, indicating pre-existing cross-reactive T cell populations. The detection of T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 is therefore critically dependent on the choice of assay and antigen. Memory responses to specific non-spike proteins provides a method to distinguish recent infection from pre-existing immunity in exposed populations.