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Mol Ther ; 2022 Aug 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2257176


Adenovirus vector vaccines have been widely and successfully deployed in response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, despite inducing potent T cell immunity, improvement of vaccine-specific antibody responses upon homologous boosting is modest compared with other technologies. Here, we describe a system enabling modular decoration of adenovirus capsid surfaces with antigens and demonstrate potent induction of humoral immunity against these displayed antigens. Ligand attachment via a covalent bond was achieved using a protein superglue, DogTag/DogCatcher (similar to SpyTag/SpyCatcher), in a rapid and spontaneous reaction requiring only co-incubation of ligand and vector components. DogTag was inserted into surface-exposed loops in the adenovirus hexon protein to allow attachment of DogCatcher-fused ligands on virus particles. Efficient coverage of the capsid surface was achieved using various ligands, with vector infectivity retained in each case. Capsid decoration shielded particles from vector neutralizing antibodies. In prime-boost regimens, adenovirus vectors decorated with the receptor-binding domain of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike induced >10-fold higher SARS-CoV-2 neutralization titers compared with an undecorated vector encoding spike. Importantly, decorated vectors achieved equivalent or superior T cell immunogenicity against encoded antigens compared with undecorated vectors. We propose capsid decoration using protein superglues as a novel strategy to improve efficacy and boostability of adenovirus-based vaccines and therapeutics.

Vaccine ; 41(5): 1108-1118, 2023 01 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2165932


There is a continued need for sarbecovirus vaccines that can be manufactured and distributed in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Subunit protein vaccines are manufactured at large scales at low costs, have less stringent temperature requirements for distribution in LMICs, and several candidates have shown protection against SARS-CoV-2. We previously reported an engineered variant of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein receptor binding domain antigen (RBD-L452K-F490W; RBD-J) with enhanced manufacturability and immunogenicity compared to the ancestral RBD. Here, we report a second-generation engineered RBD antigen (RBD-J6) with two additional mutations to a hydrophobic cryptic epitope in the RBD core, S383D and L518D, that further improved expression titers and biophysical stability. RBD-J6 retained binding affinity to human convalescent sera and to all tested neutralizing antibodies except antibodies that target the class IV epitope on the RBD core. K18-hACE2 transgenic mice immunized with three doses of a Beta variant of RBD-J6 displayed on a virus-like particle (VLP) generated neutralizing antibodies (nAb) to nine SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern at similar levels as two doses of Comirnaty. The vaccinated mice were also protected from challenge with Alpha or Beta SARS-CoV-2. This engineered antigen could be useful for modular RBD-based subunit vaccines to enhance manufacturability and global access, or for further development of variant-specific or broadly acting booster vaccines.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Animals , Mice , Epitopes/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Serotherapy , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Mice, Transgenic
Sci Adv ; 8(11): eabl6015, 2022 Mar 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1745843


Authorized vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 remain less available in low- and middle-income countries due to insufficient supply, high costs, and storage requirements. Global immunity could still benefit from new vaccines using widely available, safe adjuvants, such as alum and protein subunits, suited to low-cost production in existing manufacturing facilities. Here, a clinical-stage vaccine candidate comprising a SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain-hepatitis B surface antigen virus-like particle elicited protective immunity in cynomolgus macaques. Titers of neutralizing antibodies (>104) induced by this candidate were above the range of protection for other licensed vaccines in nonhuman primates. Including CpG 1018 did not significantly improve the immunological responses. Vaccinated animals challenged with SARS-CoV-2 showed reduced median viral loads in bronchoalveolar lavage (~3.4 log10) and nasal mucosa (~2.9 log10) versus sham controls. These data support the potential benefit of this design for a low-cost modular vaccine platform for SARS-CoV-2 and other variants of concern or betacoronaviruses.