Third EVIDENT paper published in Nature

For the third time an EVIDENT paper has been published online in the Journal Nature on 5 May 2016.

Titled “Unique human immune signature of Ebola virus disease in Guinea” the authors analyzed the physiology of the human immune response (T cell response) to Ebola virus (EVD).

In collaboration with the European Mobile Laboratory, blood samples of infected patients were collected and tested at the EVIDENT Immunology laboratory in Conakry. The focus of the study was to evaluate the immune response mediated by T cell lymphocytes, which act by killing virus-infected cells, during human EVD.

The study showed that in those patients who died from the infection, T cells showed signs of ‘exhaustion’ characterized by the high levels of two molecules that inhibit T cell function, namely CTLA-4 and PD-1. Conversely, surviving patients maintained lower levels of these inhibitory molecules and generated T cell-specific responses against the virus. Based on these findings, the scientists suggest that dysregulation of the T cell response plays an essential role in the pathophysiology of human Ebola virus infections.

The next step will be to look at these regulatory T cell molecules during infection in more detail using infection models. In the long run, the researchers aim at harnessing the T cell response in order to develop new therapeutic possibilities.

The study was conducted by scientists from the Heinrich-Pette-Institute (HPI) and the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM, coordinating institution of the EVIDENT project), both located in Hamburg (Germany) together with various other institutes from around the world which participated in the study.

Get access to the Nature publication here.