COVID19 Immune Repertoire Sequencing

Project Details


A pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan, China was first reported to the WHO on December 31st 2019. One month later, the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Today, we have reached over 1.000.000 confirmed cases worldwide, of whom just under 100.000 did not survive the infection, now known as SARS-CoV-2 causing COVID-19 disease (WHO Situation Report – April 9th, 2020). This pandemic SARS virus is the third in 20 years’ time to emerge (SARS‐CoV in 2002, MERS‐CoV in 2012). These viruses belong to the Coronavirinae subfamily of the Coronaviridae family. Since these periodically emerging Coronaviruses spread rapidly and induce serious infectious pulmonary diseases, they pose a continuous human health threat. Once, hopefully, the current pandemic has been controlled, it is speculated that SARS-CoV-2 can re-emerge during the following respiratory infectious seasons [1]. This advocates for the swift development of an effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Although these efforts are currently ongoing [2], information on immunologic responses during natural infection -essential for vaccine design- is scarce. Some experience has been gained from earlier Coronavirus outbreaks indicating that the immune response is essential to control and eliminate CoV infections [3, 4]. However, immunopathology might result from unbalanced immune responses leading to impaired disease outcomes.
Recently, high-throughput sequencing of T- and B cell receptor variable region genes (T- and BCRseq) has revolutionized cellular adaptive immune repertoire mining [5]. In-silico tools can be used to organize these datasets into cell clusters based on T/BCR sequence and physicochemical similarities[6-8]. These similarities indicate common epitope recognition. Investigating these cell clusters 1) within one patient (longitudinal analysis of clonal immune cell expansion) and 2) between different patients known to suffer from the same infection -such as the SARs-CoV-2 viral outbreak- could allow identification of antigen-specific T- and B cells important to combat this infectious disease (COVID-19).
Effective start/end date27/04/2026/01/21


  • Flemish Government - Department of Economy, Science & Innovation: €25,000.00


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