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1.
Vaccine ; 2022 Jul 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1937282

ABSTRACT

The ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to pose an enormous health challenge globally. The ongoing emergence of variants of concern has resulted in decreased vaccine efficacy necessitating booster immunizations. This was particularly highlighted by the recent emergence of the Omicron variant, which contains over 30 mutations in the spike protein and quickly became the dominant viral strain in global circulation. We previously demonstrated that delivery of a SARS-CoV-2 subunit vaccine via a high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) induced potent immunity resulting in robust protection from SARS-CoV-2 challenge in mice. Here we show that serum from HD-MAP immunized animals maintained potent neutralisation against all variants tested, including Delta and Omicron. These findings highlight the advantages of HD-MAP vaccine delivery in inducing high levels of neutralising antibodies and demonstrates its potential at providing protection from emerging viral variants.

2.
Front Immunol ; 13: 926262, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1911052

ABSTRACT

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple waves of SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged. Of particular concern is the omicron variant, which harbors 28 mutations in the spike glycoprotein receptor binding and N-terminal domains relative to the ancestral strain. The high mutability of SARS-CoV-2 therefore poses significant hurdles for development of universal assays that rely on spike-specific immune detection. To address this, more conserved viral antigens need to be targeted. In this work, we comprehensively demonstrate the use of nucleocapsid (N)-specific detection across several assays using previously described nanobodies C2 and E2. We show that these nanobodies are highly sensitive and can detect divergent SARS-CoV-2 ancestral, delta and omicron variants across several assays. By comparison, spike-specific antibodies S309 and CR3022 only disparately detect SARS-CoV-2 variant targets. As such, we conclude that N-specific detection could provide a standardized universal target for detection of current and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Single-Domain Antibodies , Antibodies, Monoclonal , Antibodies, Neutralizing , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Nucleocapsid/genetics , Nucleocapsid Proteins , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
3.
ACS central science ; 8(5):527-545, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1871009

ABSTRACT

Heparan sulfate (HS) is a cell surface polysaccharide recently identified as a coreceptor with the ACE2 protein for the S1 spike protein on SARS-CoV-2 virus, providing a tractable new therapeutic target. Clinically used heparins demonstrate an inhibitory activity but have an anticoagulant activity and are supply-limited, necessitating alternative solutions. Here, we show that synthetic HS mimetic pixatimod (PG545), a cancer drug candidate, binds and destabilizes the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor binding domain and directly inhibits its binding to ACE2, consistent with molecular modeling identification of multiple molecular contacts and overlapping pixatimod and ACE2 binding sites. Assays with multiple clinical isolates of SARS-CoV-2 virus show that pixatimod potently inhibits the infection of monkey Vero E6 cells and physiologically relevant human bronchial epithelial cells at safe therapeutic concentrations. Pixatimod also retained broad potency against variants of concern (VOC) including B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), B.1.617.2 (Delta), and B.1.1.529 (Omicron). Furthermore, in a K18-hACE2 mouse model, pixatimod significantly reduced SARS-CoV-2 viral titers in the upper respiratory tract and virus-induced weight loss. This demonstration of potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity tolerant to emerging mutations establishes proof-of-concept for targeting the HS–Spike protein–ACE2 axis with synthetic HS mimetics and provides a strong rationale for clinical investigation of pixatimod as a potential multimodal therapeutic for COVID-19. Heparan sulfate (HS) has emerged as a SARS-CoV-2 coreceptor. Pixatimod (PG545), an HS mimetic, inhibits infectivity of multiple variants offering a novel therapeutic approach against COVID-19.

4.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(5)2022 Apr 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1820432

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest public health threat facing the world today. Multiple vaccines have been approved; however, the emergence of viral variants such as the recent Omicron raises the possibility of booster doses to achieve adequate protection. In Brazil, the CoronaVac (Sinovac, Beijing, China) vaccine was used; however, it is important to assess the immune response to this vaccine over time. This study aimed to monitor the anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses in those immunized with CoronaVac and SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals. Samples were collected between August 2020 and August 2021. Within the vaccinated cohort, some individuals had a history of infection by SARS-CoV-2 prior to immunization, while others did not. We analyzed RBD-specific and neutralizing-antibodies. Anti-RBD antibodies were detected in both cohorts, with a peak between 45-90 days post infection or vaccination, followed by a steady decline over time. In those with a previous history of COVID-19, a higher, longer, more persistent response was observed. This trend was mirrored in the neutralization assays, where infection, followed by immunization, resulted in higher, longer lasting responses which were conditioned on the presence of levels of RBD antibodies right before the vaccination. This supports the necessity of booster doses of CoronaVac in due course to prevent serious disease.

5.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(4)2022 Apr 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1786092

ABSTRACT

The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to disrupt essential health services in 90 percent of countries today. The spike (S) protein found on the surface of the causative agent, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has been the prime target for current vaccine research since antibodies directed against the S protein were found to neutralize the virus. However, as new variants emerge, mutations within the spike protein have given rise to potential immune evasion of the response generated by the current generation of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. In this study, a modified, HexaPro S protein subunit vaccine, delivered using a needle-free high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP), was investigated for its immunogenicity and virus-neutralizing abilities. Mice given two doses of the vaccine candidate generated potent antibody responses capable of neutralizing the parental SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the variants of concern, Alpha and Delta. These results demonstrate that this alternative vaccination strategy has the potential to mitigate the effect of emerging viral variants.

6.
Pharmaceutics ; 14(4)2022 Apr 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1785876

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has caused a global crisis, resulting in 0.5 billion infections and over 6 million deaths as of March 2022. Fortunately, infection and hospitalization rates were curbed due to the rollout of DNA and mRNA vaccines. However, the efficacy of these vaccines significantly drops a few months post immunization, from 88% down to 47% in the case of the Pfizer BNT162 vaccine. The emergence of variant strains, especially delta and omicron, have also significantly reduced vaccine efficacy. We propose peptide vaccines as a potential solution to address the inadequacies of the current vaccines. Peptide vaccines can be easily modified to target emerging strains, have greater stability, and do not require cold-chain storage. We screened five peptide fragments (B1-B5) derived from the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to identify neutralizing B-cell peptide antigens. We then investigated adjuvant systems for efficient stimulation of immune responses against the most promising peptide antigens, including liposomal formulations of polyleucine (L10) and polymethylacrylate (PMA), as well as classical adjuvants (CFA and MF59). Immune efficacy of formulations was evaluated using competitive ELISA, pseudovirion neutralization, and live virus neutralization assays. Unfortunately, peptide conjugation to L10 and PMA dramatically altered the secondary structure, resulting in low antibody neutralization efficacy. Of the peptides tested, only B3 administered with CFA or MF59 was highly immunogenic. Thus, a peptide vaccine relying on B3 may provide an attractive alternative to currently marketed vaccines.

7.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(12)2021 Dec 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1580388

ABSTRACT

This protocol describes an ELISA-based procedure for accurate measurement of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein-receptor binding domain (RBD) neutralization efficacy by murine immune serum. The procedure requires a small amount of S-protein/RBD and angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2). A high-throughput, simple ELISA technique is employed. Plate-coated-RBDs are allowed to interact with the serum, then soluble ACE2 is added, followed by secondary antibodies and substrate. The key steps in this procedure include (1) serum heat treatment to prevent non-specific interactions, (2) proper use of blank controls to detect side reactions and eliminate secondary antibody cross-reactivity, (3) the addition of an optimal amount of saturating ACE2 to maximize sensitivity and prevent non-competitive co-occurrence of RBD-ACE2 binding and neutralization, and (4) mechanistically derived neutralization calculation using a calibration curve. Even manually, the protocol can be completed in 16 h for >30 serum samples; this includes the 7.5 h of incubation time. This automatable, high-throughput, competitive ELISA assay can screen a large number of sera, and does not require sterile conditions or special containment measures, as live viruses are not employed. In comparison to the 'gold standard' assays (virus neutralization titers (VNT) or plaque reduction neutralization titers (PRNT)), which are laborious and time consuming and require special containment measures due to their use of live viruses. This simple, alternative neutralization efficacy assay can be a great asset for initial vaccine development stages. The assay successfully passed conventional validation parameters (sensitivity, specificity, precision, and accuracy) and results with moderately neutralizing murine sera correlated with VNT assay results (R2 = 0.975, n = 25), demonstrating high sensitivity.

8.
Sci Adv ; 7(44): eabj8065, 2021 Oct 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1494911

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected more than 160 million people and resulted in more than 3.3 million deaths, and despite the availability of multiple vaccines, the world still faces many challenges with their rollout. Here, we use the high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 spike subunit vaccine directly to the skin. We show that the vaccine is thermostable on the patches, with patch delivery enhancing both cellular and antibody immune responses. Elicited antibodies potently neutralize clinically relevant isolates including the Alpha and Beta variants. Last, a single dose of HD-MAP­delivered spike provided complete protection from a lethal virus challenge in an ACE2-transgenic mouse model. Collectively, these data show that HD-MAP delivery of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was superior to traditional needle-and-syringe vaccination and may be a significant addition to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.

9.
Cell Rep ; 36(7): 109530, 2021 08 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1330686

ABSTRACT

A recent study proposed that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) hijacks the LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposition machinery to integrate into the DNA of infected cells. If confirmed, this finding could have significant clinical implications. Here, we apply deep (>50×) long-read Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) sequencing to HEK293T cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 and do not find the virus integrated into the genome. By examining ONT data from separate HEK293T cultivars, we completely resolve 78 L1 insertions arising in vitro in the absence of L1 overexpression systems. ONT sequencing applied to hepatitis B virus (HBV)-positive liver cancer tissues located a single HBV insertion. These experiments demonstrate reliable resolution of retrotransposon and exogenous virus insertions by ONT sequencing. That we find no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 integration suggests that such events are, at most, extremely rare in vivo and therefore are unlikely to drive oncogenesis or explain post-recovery detection of the virus.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , DNA, Viral/genetics , Genome, Human , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sequence Analysis, DNA , Virus Integration , Aged , Animals , COVID-19/diagnosis , Carcinoma, Hepatocellular/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Hepatitis B virus/genetics , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Liver Neoplasms/virology , Long Interspersed Nucleotide Elements , Male , Nanopore Sequencing , Vero Cells
10.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 3431, 2021 06 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1262001

ABSTRACT

The current COVID-19 pandemic is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We demonstrate that despite the large size of the viral RNA genome (~30 kb), infectious full-length cDNA is readily assembled in vitro by a circular polymerase extension reaction (CPER) methodology without the need for technically demanding intermediate steps. Overlapping cDNA fragments are generated from viral RNA and assembled together with a linker fragment containing CMV promoter into a circular full-length viral cDNA in a single reaction. Transfection of the circular cDNA into mammalian cells results in the recovery of infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus that exhibits properties comparable to the parental virus in vitro and in vivo. CPER is also used to generate insect-specific Casuarina virus with ~20 kb genome and the human pathogens Ross River virus (Alphavirus) and Norovirus (Calicivirus), with the latter from a clinical sample. Additionally, reporter and mutant viruses are generated and employed to study virus replication and virus-receptor interactions.


Subject(s)
Reverse Genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Base Sequence , Chlorocebus aethiops , Culicidae/virology , Furin/metabolism , Genome, Viral , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mice , Mutation/genetics , NIH 3T3 Cells , Polymerase Chain Reaction , RAW 264.7 Cells , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , Vero Cells , Viral Proteins/chemistry , Virus Replication
11.
Clin Transl Immunology ; 10(4): e1269, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1162553

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Efforts to develop and deploy effective vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continue at pace. Here, we describe rational antigen design through to manufacturability and vaccine efficacy of a prefusion-stabilised spike (S) protein, Sclamp, in combination with the licensed adjuvant MF59 'MF59C.1' (Seqirus, Parkville, Australia). METHODS: A panel recombinant Sclamp proteins were produced in Chinese hamster ovary and screened in vitro to select a lead vaccine candidate. The structure of this antigen was determined by cryo-electron microscopy and assessed in mouse immunogenicity studies, hamster challenge studies and safety and toxicology studies in rat. RESULTS: In mice, the Sclamp vaccine elicits high levels of neutralising antibodies, as well as broadly reactive and polyfunctional S-specific CD4+ and cytotoxic CD8+ T cells in vivo. In the Syrian hamster challenge model (n = 70), vaccination results in reduced viral load within the lung, protection from pulmonary disease and decreased viral shedding in daily throat swabs which correlated strongly with the neutralising antibody level. CONCLUSION: The SARS-CoV-2 Sclamp vaccine candidate is compatible with large-scale commercial manufacture, stable at 2-8°C. When formulated with MF59 adjuvant, it elicits neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses and provides protection in animal challenge models.

12.
Environ Res ; 196: 110944, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1108272

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed gaps in our understanding of safe, effective and efficient means of disinfecting high use public spaces. Whilst this creates an opportunity for development and application of innovative approaches such as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) based disinfection, unregulated outdoor disinfection using chlorine has led to environmental and public health risks. This study has quantified the efficiency, safety and efficacy of UAV-based spraying of aqueous ozone. Optimised UAV flight characteristics of 4.7 km/h at 1.7 m elevation spraying 2.4 L/min were able to provide >97% and >92% coverage of a 1 m and 2 m wide swath respectively. During spraying operations using 1 mg/L aqueous ozone, atmospheric concentrations of ozone remained within background levels (<0.04 ppm). Highly efficient inactivation of two different isolates of SARS-CoV-2 virus was achieved at aqueous ozone concentrations of 0.75 mg/L after an incubation period of only 5 min, with 0.375 mg/L achieving 82-91.5% inactivation in this time. Exposure of diamondback moth larvae and parasitic wasps to 1 mg/L aqueous ozone did not significantly affect their survivorship. These results indicate for the first time that aqueous ozone may provide the required balance between human and environmental safety and viral inactivation efficacy for targeted application in high risk outdoor settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Disinfectants , Ozone , Disinfection , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
13.
Front Microbiol ; 12: 625136, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1110305

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified as the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 and is capable of human-to-human transmission and rapid global spread. The rapid emergence and global spread of SARS-CoV-2 has encouraged the establishment of a rapid, sensitive, and reliable viral detection and quantification methodology. Here, we present an alternative assay, termed immuno-plaque assay (iPA), which utilizes a combination of plaque assay and immunofluorescence techniques. We have extensively optimized the conditions for SARS-CoV-2 infection and demonstrated the great flexibility of iPA detection using several antibodies and dual-probing with two distinct epitope-specific antibodies. In addition, we showed that iPA could be utilized for ultra-high-throughput viral titration and neutralization assay within 24 h and is amenable to a 384-well format. These advantages will significantly accelerate SARS-CoV-2 research outcomes during this pandemic period.

14.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 3318, 2021 02 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1069119

ABSTRACT

Despite unprecedented global efforts to rapidly develop SARS-CoV-2 treatments, in order to reduce the burden placed on health systems, the situation remains critical. Effective diagnosis, treatment, and prophylactic measures are urgently required to meet global demand: recombinant antibodies fulfill these requirements and have marked clinical potential. Here, we describe the fast-tracked development of an alpaca Nanobody specific for the receptor-binding-domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein with potential therapeutic applicability. We present a rapid method for nanobody isolation that includes an optimized immunization regimen coupled with VHH library E. coli surface display, which allows single-step selection of Nanobodies using a simple density gradient centrifugation of the bacterial library. The selected single and monomeric Nanobody, W25, binds to the SARS-CoV-2 S RBD with sub-nanomolar affinity and efficiently competes with ACE-2 receptor binding. Furthermore, W25 potently neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 wild type and the D614G variant with IC50 values in the nanomolar range, demonstrating its potential as antiviral agent.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antibody Affinity/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Single-Domain Antibodies/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , COVID-19/virology , Camelids, New World/immunology , Escherichia coli/genetics , Escherichia coli/metabolism , Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics , HeLa Cells , Humans , Immunization , Male , Neutralization Tests , Peptide Library , Protein Binding/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Transfection
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