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biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.05.24.493347


Prolonged maintenance of therapeutically-relevant levels of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is necessary to enable passive immunization against infectious disease. Unfortunately, protection only lasts for as long as these bnAbs remain present at a sufficiently high concentration in the body. Poor pharmacokinetics and burdensome administration are two challenges that need to be addressed in order to make pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis with bnAbs feasible and effective. In this work, we develop a supramolecular hydrogel as an injectable, subcutaneous depot to encapsulate and deliver antibody drug cargo. This polymer-nanoparticle (PNP) hydrogel exhibits shear-thinning and self-healing properties that are required for an injectable drug delivery vehicle. In vitro drug release assays and diffusion measurements indicate that the PNP hydrogels prevent burst release and slow the release of encapsulated antibodies. Delivery of bnAbs against SARS-CoV-2 from PNP hydrogels is compared to standard routes of administration in a preclinical mouse model. We develop a multi-compartment model to understand the ability of these subcutaneous depot materials to modulate the pharmacokinetics of released antibodies; the model is extrapolated to explore the requirements needed for novel materials to successfully deliver relevant antibody therapeutics with different pharmacokinetic characteristics.

Communicable Diseases
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.28.474380


The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern evades antibody mediated immunity with an unprecedented magnitude due to accumulation of numerous spike mutations. To understand the Omicron antigenic shift, we determined cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystal structures of the spike and RBD bound to the broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus monoclonal antibody (mAb) S309 (the parent mAb of sotrovimab) and to the human ACE2 receptor. We provide a structural framework for understanding the marked reduction of binding of all other therapeutic mAbs leading to dampened neutralizing activity. We reveal electrostatic remodeling of the interactions within the spike and those formed between the Omicron RBD and human ACE2, likely explaining enhanced affinity for the host receptor relative to the prototypic virus.

biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.07.03.451025


The SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein, specifically its receptor binding domain (RBD), has emerged as a promising target for generation of neutralizing antibodies. Although the RBD peptide subunit is easily manufactured and highly stable, RBD-based subunit vaccines have been hampered by its poor inherent immunogenicity. We hypothesize that this limitation can be overcome by sustained co-administration alongside a potent and optimized adjuvant. The innate immune second messenger, cGAMP, holds promise as it activates the potent anti-viral STING pathway, but has exhibited poor performance as a therapeutic due to its nonspecific pharmacodynamic profiles when administered systemically and its poor pharmacokinetics arising from rapid excretion and degradation by its hydrolase ENPP1. To overcome these limitations, we sought to mimic the natural scenario of viral infections by creating an artificial immunological niche that enables slow release of cGAMP and the RBD antigen. Specifically, we co-encapsulated cGAMP and RBD in an injectable polymer-nanoparticle (PNP) hydrogel system. This cGAMP-adjuvanted hydrogel vaccine elicited more potent, durable, and broad antibody responses and improved neutralization than both dose-matched bolus controls and a hydrogel-based vaccine lacking cGAMP. The cGAMP-adjuvanted hydrogel platform developed is suitable for delivery of other antigens and may provide enhanced immunity against a broad range of pathogens.