Vaccines function to stimulate an immune response to ward off a particular disease, often inducing antibodies against a specific antigen. B cells, in particular, play a significant role in the adaptive immune response to an infection because of their ability to produce antibodies that develop immunological memory with high affinity and unique specificity to an antigen. A better understanding of immune response and how it evolves over time may help improve decisions around vaccine efficacy, safety, dosage and the duration of protection. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a high-throughput methodology that can be used for deep analysis of the BCR repertoire to better identify biomolecules for vaccine research applications. The race is on to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), the crisis that is profoundly changing our day-to-day lives.
What are the genetics behind the power of B cells and our immune system?
The introduction of a foreign antigen into the body activates B cell responses. An activated B cell may undergo class switch recombination and somatic hypermutation, two crucial genetic processes specific to B cells for antibody production. With class switching, B cells may change the type of antibody (isotype) to gain different effector functions like antigen neutralization or antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Somatic hypermutations (SHMs) rapidly alter the B cell receptor (BCR) to potentially increase antigen affinity. Higher affinity antibodies are often more effective at binding and neutralizing viruses or bacteria. Through selective pressure, B cells with mutations that do not increase affinity for the presenting antigen will undergo cell death. What results is an army of B cells, the BCR repertoire, with each cell having a unique BCR to help protect our bodies from disease.
Why is it important to understand the BCR repertoire?
A better understanding of immune response and how it evolves over time may help improve decisions around vaccine efficacy, safety, dosage and the duration of protection. Current methods for immunology research, like enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), simply confirm an immune response by detecting the presence or absence of antibodies. As a result, researchers are now leveraging the high throughput of next-generation sequencing (NGS) for deeper analysis of the BCR repertoire to identify biomolecules for vaccine research applications. However, NGS is viewed by some as complicated and data interpretation difficult, particularly since accuracy is required to properly study SHMs and B cell evolution.
A Targeted BCR sequencing solution for immune response and vaccine research
The Oncomine™ BCR IGH LR assay is part of a simple and accurate targeted NGS solution with an end-to-end workflow that includes user-friendly analysis tools, making it easy for researchers to study immune response. This assay leverages the long-read capability and accuracy of Ion TorrentTM sequencing technology for deeper insights in the BCR repertoire. Both SHM and isotype information are captured in a streamlined workflow with low sample input requirements. This workflow includes a comprehensive suite of data visualization tools to analyze SHM patterns, track B cell lineages, and quantify isotype expansion such as IgG1, to better understand immune response for vaccine research. The ability to go from sample to insight in 3 days makes it easy for immune repertoire sequencing to be applied in parallel with ELISA and virus neutralization assays, allowing vaccine developers to make informed decisions quickly.
The global impact of the SARS-CoV-2 crisis has highlighted the importance of rapid vaccine research to combat infectious diseases. While there is more work to be done, it is clear that a complete NGS solution like the Oncomine BCR IGH LR assay is necessary to help researchers gain a better understanding of immune response to improve vaccine performance, with the hope of being able to swiftly address global public health concerns currently and in years to come.
Learn more about simple, accurate and complete targeted NGS solution for vaccine research.
For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.