Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a new blood test to measure the body’s response to the Covid-19 vaccine.

The test can measure T-cell and antibody responses to the Covid-19 vaccine in patients with multiple sclerosis and then integrate it into electronic health records to help clinicians and patients make decisions.

The blood test was developed with the support of the National Institutes of Health Autoimmunity Center of Excellence at Penn Medicine.

According to the institution, the first-of-its-kind test provides a clear picture of immune response in patients who have undergone immune-suppressing anti-CD20 (aCD20) treatment.

Systems Pharmacology & Translational Therapeutics chairperson E. John Wherry said: “Right now, the most pressing application of this test is for Covid-19, but the immune system plays such a huge role in how the body fights most illnesses, there’s enormous potential for this test down the line.

“What’s more, many treatments for a range of conditions, like cancer, can weaken a patient’s immune system.

“We’re hopeful that, in the future, this test could be used widely to measure the ability of patients’ immune systems to fight a variety of illnesses.”

Several MS patients receive aCD20 therapy, which reduces the B-cells responsible for MS attacks.

The ability of patients to make antibodies is reduced when the B-cells are decreased with a CD20 treatment since B-cells are responsible for producing antibodies.

Measuring the number of antibodies in the blood is typically used to assess the immunological response to vaccination.

Individuals who got aCD20 infusions would appear to be unable to produce an immune response to vaccination when, in fact, research demonstrates that they are actually able to mount a robust T-cell response, said the Perelman School.