Recovery from the Middle East respiratory syndrome is associated with antibody and T cell responses

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Science Immunology  04 Aug 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 14, eaan5393
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aan5393

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Breaking the camel virus’s back

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causes a potentially lethal zoonotic pneumonia that can transfer between individuals after initial exposure to an infected camel. Now, Zhao et al. dig deeper into the immune response in MERS-CoV survivors. They found that neutralizing antibody titers could predict protection in an animal model but that antibody levels were often transient. Moreover, both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were induced after MERS-CoV infection, and these cells could be detected even in the absence of virus-specific antibody. These data suggest that T cells may be useful in detecting mild or subclinical infection and that epitopes recognized by these T cells may form the basis for future vaccine design and immunotherapy.