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Viruses ; 14(5)2022 05 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1862912


The rapid global spread of severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in an urgent effort to find efficacious therapeutics. Broad-spectrum therapies which could be used for other respiratory pathogens confer advantages, as do those based on targeting host cells that are not prone to the development of resistance by the pathogen. We tested an intranasally delivered carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) therapy, termed Neumifil, which is based on a CBM that has previously been shown to offer protection against the influenza virus through the binding of sialic acid receptors. Using the recognised hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, we demonstrate that Neumifil significantly reduces clinical disease severity and pathological changes in the nasal cavity. Furthermore, we demonstrate Neumifil binding to the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor and spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. This is the first report describing the testing of this type of broad-spectrum antiviral therapy in vivo and provides evidence for the advancement of Neumifil in further preclinical and clinical studies.

COVID-19 , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A , COVID-19/drug therapy , Carbohydrates , Cricetinae , Humans , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
Antiviral Res ; 203: 105332, 2022 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1821130


Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 are important to generate protective immunity, with convalescent plasma one of the first therapies approved. An alternative source of polyclonal antibodies suitable for upscaling would be more amendable to regulatory approval and widespread use. In this study, sheep were immunised with SARS-CoV-2 whole spike protein or one of the subunit proteins: S1 and S2. Once substantial antibody titres were generated, plasma was collected and samples pooled for each antigen. Non-specific antibodies were removed via affinity-purification to yield candidate products for testing in a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Affinity-purified polyclonal antibodies to whole spike, S1 and S2 proteins were evaluated for in vitro for neutralising activity against SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan-like virus (Australia/VIC01/2020) and a recent variant of concern, B.1.1.529 BA.1 (Omicron), antibody-binding, complement fixation and phagocytosis assays were also performed. All antibody preparations demonstrated an effect against SARS-CoV-2 disease in the hamster model of challenge, with those raised against the S2 subunit providing the most promise. A rapid, cost-effective therapy for COVID-19 was developed which provides a source of highly active immunoglobulin specific to SARS-CoV-2 with multi-functional activity.

COVID-19 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/therapy , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Immunization, Passive , SARS-CoV-2 , Sheep , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
Elife ; 112022 04 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1791920


The pathogenesis and host-viral interactions of the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever orthonairovirus (CCHFV) are convoluted and not well evaluated. Application of the multi-omics system biology approaches, including biological network analysis in elucidating the complex host-viral response, interrogates the viral pathogenesis. The present study aimed to fingerprint the system-level alterations during acute CCHFV-infection and the cellular immune responses during productive CCHFV-replication in vitro. We used system-wide network-based system biology analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from a longitudinal cohort of CCHF patients during the acute phase of infection and after one year of recovery (convalescent phase) followed by untargeted quantitative proteomics analysis of the most permissive CCHFV-infected Huh7 and SW13 cells. In the RNAseq analysis of the PBMCs, comparing the acute and convalescent-phase, we observed system-level host's metabolic reprogramming towards central carbon and energy metabolism (CCEM) with distinct upregulation of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) during CCHFV-infection. Upon application of network-based system biology methods, negative coordination of the biological signaling systems like FOXO/Notch axis and Akt/mTOR/HIF-1 signaling with metabolic pathways during CCHFV-infection were observed. The temporal quantitative proteomics in Huh7 showed a dynamic change in the CCEM over time and concordant with the cross-sectional proteomics in SW13 cells. By blocking the two key CCEM pathways, glycolysis and glutaminolysis, viral replication was inhibited in vitro. Activation of key interferon stimulating genes during infection suggested the role of type I and II interferon-mediated antiviral mechanisms both at the system level and during progressive replication.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is an emerging disease that is increasingly spreading to new populations. The condition is now endemic in almost 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South-Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. CCHF is caused by a tick-borne virus and can cause uncontrolled bleeding. It has a mortality rate of up to 40%, and there are currently no vaccines or effective treatments available. All viruses depend entirely on their hosts for reproduction, and they achieve this through hijacking the molecular machinery of the cells they infect. However, little is known about how the CCHF virus does this and how the cells respond. To understand more about the relationship between the cell's metabolism and viral replication, Neogi, Elaldi et al. studied immune cells taken from patients during an infection and one year later. The gene activity of the cells showed that the virus prefers to hijack processes known as central carbon and energy metabolism. These are the main regulator of the cellular energy supply and the production of essential chemicals. By using cancer drugs to block these key pathways, Neogi, Elaldi et al. could reduce the viral reproduction in laboratory cells. These findings provide a clearer understanding of how the CCHF virus replicates inside human cells. By interfering with these processes, researchers could develop new antiviral strategies to treat the disease. One of the cancer drugs tested in cells, 2-DG, has been approved for emergency use against COVID-19 in some countries. Neogi, Elaldi et al. are now studying this further in animals with the hope of reaching clinical trials in the future.

Hemorrhagic Fever Virus, Crimean-Congo , Hemorrhagic Fever, Crimean , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Cross-Sectional Studies , Hemorrhagic Fever Virus, Crimean-Congo/genetics , Humans , Interferons , Leukocytes, Mononuclear
Transbound Emerg Dis ; 2022 Mar 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1765049


Following findings in Northern America of SARS-CoV-2 infections in white-tailed deer, there is concern of similar infections in European deer and their potential as reservoirs of SARS-CoV-2 including opportunities for the emergence of new variants. UK deer sera were collected in 2020-2021 from 6 species and a hybrid with 1748 tested using anti-spike and anti-nucleocapsid serology assays. No samples were positive on both assays nor by surrogate neutralization testing. There is no evidence that spill-over infections of SARS-CoV-2 occurred from the human population to UK deer or that SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating in UK deer (over the study period). Although it cannot be ruled out, study results indicate that spill-over infections followed by circulation of SARS-CoV-2 to the most common European deer species is small.

Viruses ; 13(11)2021 11 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1512699


The global pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to an international thrust to study pathogenesis and evaluate interventions. Experimental infection of hamsters and the resulting respiratory disease is one of the preferred animal models since clinical signs of disease and virus shedding are similar to more severe cases of human COVID-19. The main route of challenge has been direct inoculation of the virus via the intranasal route. To resemble the natural infection, we designed a bespoke natural transmission cage system to assess whether recipient animals housed in physically separate adjacent cages could become infected from a challenged donor animal in a central cage, with equal airflow across the two side cages. To optimise viral shedding in the donor animals, a low and moderate challenge dose were compared after direct intranasal challenge, but similar viral shedding responses were observed and no discernible difference in kinetics. The results from our natural transmission set-up demonstrate that most recipient hamsters are infected within the system developed, with variation in the kinetics and levels of disease between individual animals. Common clinical outputs used for the assessment in directly-challenged hamsters, such as weight loss, are less obvious in hamsters who become infected from naturally acquiring the infection. The results demonstrate the utility of a natural transmission model for further work on assessing the differences between virus strains and evaluating interventions using a challenge system which more closely resembles human infection.

COVID-19/transmission , Disease Models, Animal , Mesocricetus , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Animals , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Cricetinae , Female , Lung/pathology , Male , Nasal Cavity/pathology , Viral Load , Virus Shedding
EBioMedicine ; 63: 103153, 2021 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-956065


BACKGROUND: The novel human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is a major ongoing global threat with huge economic burden. Like all respiratory viruses, SARS-CoV-2 initiates infection in the upper respiratory tract (URT). Infected individuals are often asymptomatic, yet highly infectious and readily transmit virus. A therapy that restricts initial replication in the URT has the potential to prevent progression of severe lower respiratory tract disease as well as limiting person-to-person transmission. METHODS: SARS-CoV-2 Victoria/01/2020 was passaged in Vero/hSLAM cells and virus titre determined by plaque assay. Challenge virus was delivered by intranasal instillation to female ferrets at 5.0 × 106 pfu/ml. Treatment groups received intranasal INNA-051, developed by Ena Respiratory. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected using the 2019-nCoV CDC RUO Kit and QuantStudio™ 7 Flex Real-Time PCR System. Histopathological analysis was performed using cut tissues stained with haematoxylin and eosin (H&E). FINDINGS: We show that prophylactic intra-nasal administration of the TLR2/6 agonist INNA-051 in a SARS-CoV-2 ferret infection model effectively reduces levels of viral RNA in the nose and throat. After 5 days post-exposure to SARS-CoV-2, INNA-051 significantly reduced virus in throat swabs (p=<0.0001) by up to a 24 fold (96% reduction) and in nasal wash (p=0.0107) up to a 15 fold (93% reduction) in comparison to untreated animals. INTERPRETATION: The results of our study support clinical development of a therapy based on prophylactic TLR2/6 innate immune activation in the URT, to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission and provide protection against COVID-19. FUNDING: This work was funded by Ena Respiratory, Melbourne, Australia.

Lipopeptides/administration & dosage , Respiratory System/virology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Toll-Like Receptor 2/agonists , Toll-Like Receptor 6/agonists , Virus Shedding , Administration, Intranasal , Animals , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/pathology , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Ferrets , Immunity, Innate , Lipopeptides/chemistry , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Nasal Cavity/pathology , Nasal Cavity/virology , Pharynx/pathology , Pharynx/virology , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Respiratory System/pathology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Viral Load/drug effects