Towards a better understanding of vaccine-induced protection in the elderly and frail
March 23, 2023 @ 10:00 – 11:00 CET
Speaker: Mattias Forsell, Associate Professor, Umeå University
Abstract: The impact of age on the induction of protective immunity has been a neglected area of research. However, the recent pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of the elderly to severe or fatal outcomes after virus infections. This vulnerability is not limited to SARS-CoV-2 but also applies to other common respiratory infections, such as Influenza type A and RSV. To improve our understanding of age-related immune responses, we have implemented a longitudinal strategy to monitor the immunity, infections, and fatalities of individuals living in nursing homes in five different Swedish healthcare regions. This vulnerable population comprises the oldest and most frail individuals in Sweden, with a median age of 86 years and one or several comorbidities. The study began in September 2021, and we have performed repeated capillary blood sampling of more than 3,000 individuals. We will present vaccine-specific antibody responses after sequential COVID-19 mRNA boosts. By combining immunology data with national registry-based data, we will demonstrate the impact of vaccination on SARS-CoV-2-related deaths during a time period characterized by waves of neutralization-resistant Omicron variants BA.1, BA.2, and BA.5. We will discuss the use of such data for the implementation of strategies to identify the frailest individuals of an already vulnerable population and its impact on future vaccine strategies.
Short bio: Mattias Forsell is an Associate Professor of Immunology and a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Laboratory Sciences at Umeå University. His laboratory is focused on cellular and molecular studies of B cell responses, with the aim of understanding basic processes for protective immunity and how they can be utilized for the development of antibody-based therapeutics and improved vaccine strategies. His research accomplishments include the development of a potential treatment for fatal hantavirus infection, a detailed molecular understanding of B cell responses to heterologous vaccination, and the implementation of a sampling strategy to provide equal access to high-quality serology for inhabitants in Västerbotten. Dr. Forsell completed his graduate studies at MTC, Karolinska Institutet, and the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in the USA. He received a PhD in Medicine and continued as a postdoc at NIH before returning to KI. In 2015, he was recruited to Umeå University, where he established his current research group. In 2020, he received a Consolidator Grant from the Swedish Research Council and is now coordinating KAW-funded SciLife efforts in Vaccine Research and Pandemic Preparedness. His laboratory is also a node for a NIH-funded Center of Excellence in Translational Medicine for the discovery and development of antiviral antibodies.