U of M researchers study how immunocompromised youth respond to vaccines

Dr Kline is the local lead investigator for the study, which focuses on people aged 18 to 29.

“I think young people have a lot of social contact,” said Dr Kline. “As we know from data from our local health department, this is actually the age group that has the highest rates of COVID-19.”

His team hopes to recruit 150 young people who have not received a vaccine or tested positive for COVID-19. Participants do not need to be students at the University.

Those who wish to be vaccinated will be randomly selected to either receive Moderna vaccines immediately or receive the standard of care, meaning they can choose to be vaccinated at any time.

“They can access it on their own, if they have not been vaccinated four months after the start of the study, they will also receive the Moderna vaccine,” said Dr Kline. “Then there is a third group of participants who do not want to be vaccinated and yet are ready to participate. “

The third group will not receive a vaccine.

All participants will be asked to take periodic blood samples and daily nasal swabs over a period of four to five months.

If anyone is positive, the research team will endeavor to collect samples from a network of their close contacts.

“I really hope to know how likely it is that people who have been vaccinated will be infected first versus those who have not,” she said. “How much virus is in their nose?” […] Even if you have an asymptomatic infection, how likely are you to pass it on to others?

The trial is being conducted through the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), which hopes to recruit 18,000 people across the country.

“The virus is transmitted differently, in different parts of the country, at different times,” said Dr Kline. “As we saw this summer, some of the most important transmissions were in the South, for example, but last fall Minnesota was sort of one of the highest sites in the country and it There will therefore be these seasonal variations in these different regions. I think it’s important to have representation in all the different regions.

With the delta variant, she also expects them to see more cases of transmission.

The new strain of the virus is also affecting another study from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine.

“Delta has definitely thrown a wrench into things,” said Dr. Amy Karger, a clinical pathologist at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and M Health Fairview.

Dr. Karger studies the immune response to vaccines. This is a national study sponsored by the Serological Sciences Network (SeroNet), which is “a major component of the National Cancer Institute’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the University.

His research focuses on how people with weakened immune systems respond to all vaccines.

“We were specifically tasked with examining three immunocompromised populations – HIV patients, transplant patients and patients with a history of cancer,” said Dr. Karger. “Part of the reason we chose the groups we created, we thought there was excellent subspecialty care in these areas of cancer, transplantation and HIV here at the University. from Minnesota and we knew a lot of patients come here for this care. ”

Registration began in June with participants who had not yet received a vaccine. The team recruited people with both weakened and normal immune systems to compare the two groups.

“We try to measure samples one to three months after vaccination, that’s sort of when you expect the immune response to be at its peak, and then we want to track it about every six months. months to see its decline over time, ”explained Dr. Karger.

The study will last two years.

“We’ve just started looking at our preliminary data, we haven’t published anything yet, but it’s certainly showing up in our cohorts so far, some people don’t have as good an immune response as others,” said Dr. Karger. . “We’re really going to spend the next month or two taking a more in-depth look at this data to try to determine what are the contributors to a poor immune response to the vaccine.”

She said research is important in determining how to move forward with vaccinations.

“I think the ultimate goal is if we can understand why people are not responding, maybe we can modulate some of these risk factors or treat them or suggest other vaccination strategies,” she said. declared.

The team is now adding another group of participants to accommodate the changing recommendations. They are looking for people who are immunocompromised, vaccinated and who will receive their third injection.

“It really gives us the opportunity to recruit a whole new batch of participants now that people are getting the third dose,” Dr. Karger said. “We would like to be at the forefront of determining the quality of the response we will get from this additional vaccine.”

To register for Dr. Karger’s study, click here.

To register for Dr. Kline’s study, click here.

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About Bradley J. Bridges

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