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Emerg Microbes Infect ; 11(1): 1058-1071, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1752040


Safe, efficacious, and deployable vaccines are urgently needed to control COVID-19 in the large-scale vaccination campaigns. We report here the preclinical studies of an approved protein subunit vaccine against COVID-19, ZF2001, which contains tandem-repeat dimeric receptor-binding domain (RBD) protein with alum-based adjuvant. We assessed vaccine immunogenicity and efficacy in both mice and non-human primates (NHPs). ZF2001 induced high levels of RBD-binding and SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody in both mice and non-human primates, and elicited balanced TH1/TH2 cellular responses in NHPs. Two doses of ZF2001 protected Ad-hACE2-transduced mice against SARS-CoV-2 infection, as detected by reduced viral RNA and relieved lung injuries. In NHPs, vaccination of either 25 µg or 50 µg ZF2001 prevented infection with SARS-CoV-2 in lung, trachea, and bronchi, with milder lung lesions. No evidence of disease enhancement was observed in both animal models. ZF2001 has been approved for emergency use in China, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, and Columbia. The high safety, immunogenicity, and protection efficacy in both mice and NHPs found in this preclinical study was consistent with the results in human clinical trials.

COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/prevention & control , Carrier Proteins , Humans , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Primates , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vaccines, Subunit
Cell ; 182(3): 722-733.e11, 2020 08 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-628738


Vaccines are urgently needed to control the ongoing pandemic COVID-19 and previously emerging MERS/SARS caused by coronavirus (CoV) infections. The CoV spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) is an attractive vaccine target but is undermined by limited immunogenicity. We describe a dimeric form of MERS-CoV RBD that overcomes this limitation. The RBD-dimer significantly increased neutralizing antibody (NAb) titers compared to conventional monomeric form and protected mice against MERS-CoV infection. Crystal structure showed RBD-dimer fully exposed dual receptor-binding motifs, the major target for NAbs. Structure-guided design further yielded a stable version of RBD-dimer as a tandem repeat single-chain (RBD-sc-dimer) which retained the vaccine potency. We generalized this strategy to design vaccines against COVID-19 and SARS, achieving 10- to 100-fold enhancement of NAb titers. RBD-sc-dimers in pilot scale production yielded high yields, supporting their scalability for further clinical development. The framework of immunogen design can be universally applied to other beta-CoV vaccines to counter emerging threats.

Betacoronavirus/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/immunology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , SARS Virus/immunology , Universal Design , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Betacoronavirus/chemistry , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Vaccines , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Infections/virology , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/chemistry , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Protein Binding , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs/immunology , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , SARS Virus/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2 , Sf9 Cells , Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms , Spodoptera , Transfection , Vaccination/methods , Vero Cells , Viral Vaccines