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Vaccine ; 41(17): 2793-2803, 2023 04 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2287284


Protein subunit vaccines have been widely used to combat infectious diseases, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Adjuvants play the key role in shaping the quality and magnitude of the immune response to protein and inactivated vaccines. We previously developed a protein subunit COVID-19 vaccine, termed ZF2001, based on an aluminium hydroxide-adjuvanted tandem-repeat dimeric receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the viral spike (S) protein. Here, we described the use of a squalene-based oil-in-water adjuvant, Sepivac SWE™ (abbreviated to SWE), to further improve the immunogenicity of this RBD-dimer-based subunit vaccines. Compared with ZF2001, SWE adjuvant enhanced the antibody and CD4+ T-cell responses in mice with at least 10 fold of dose sparing compared with ZF2001 adjuvanted with aluminium hydroxide. SWE-adjuvanted vaccine protected mice against SARS-CoV-2 challenge. To ensure adequate protection against the currently circulating Omicron variant, we evaluated this adjuvant in combination with Delta-Omicron chimeric RBD-dimer. SWE significantly increased antibody responses compared with aluminium hydroxide adjuvant and afforded greater neutralization breadth. These data highlight the advantage of emulsion-based adjuvants to elevate the protective immune response of protein subunit COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccines , Adjuvants, Vaccine , Protein Multimerization , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Mutation , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Humans , Animals , Mice , Binding Sites , Cell Line
Frontiers in immunology ; 13, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-2034244


Various chemical adjuvants are available to augment immune responses to non-replicative, subunit vaccines. Optimized adjuvant selection can ensure that vaccine-induced immune responses protect against the diversity of pathogen-associated infection routes, mechanisms of infectious spread, and pathways of immune evasion. In this study, we compare the immune response of mice to a subunit vaccine of Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) spike protein, stabilized in its prefusion conformation by a proprietary molecular clamp (MERS SClamp) alone or formulated with one of six adjuvants: either (i) aluminium hydroxide, (ii) SWE, a squalene-in-water emulsion, (iii) SQ, a squalene-in-water emulsion containing QS21 saponin, (iv) SMQ, a squalene-in-water emulsion containing QS21 and a synthetic toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) agonist 3D-6-acyl Phosphorylated HexaAcyl Disaccharide (3D6AP);(v) LQ, neutral liposomes containing cholesterol, 1.2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC) and QS21, (vi) or LMQ, neutral liposomes containing cholesterol, DOPC, QS21, and 3D6AP. All adjuvanted formulations induced elevated antibody titers which where greatest for QS21-containing formulations. These had elevated neutralization capacity and induced higher frequencies of IFNƔ and IL-2-producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Additionally, LMQ-containing formulations skewed the antibody response towards IgG2b/c isotypes, allowing for antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. This study highlights the utility of side-by-side adjuvant comparisons in vaccine development.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(38)2021 09 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1397979


Global containment of COVID-19 still requires accessible and affordable vaccines for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Recently approved vaccines provide needed interventions, albeit at prices that may limit their global access. Subunit vaccines based on recombinant proteins are suited for large-volume microbial manufacturing to yield billions of doses annually, minimizing their manufacturing cost. These types of vaccines are well-established, proven interventions with multiple safe and efficacious commercial examples. Many vaccine candidates of this type for SARS-CoV-2 rely on sequences containing the receptor-binding domain (RBD), which mediates viral entry to cells via ACE2. Here we report an engineered sequence variant of RBD that exhibits high-yield manufacturability, high-affinity binding to ACE2, and enhanced immunogenicity after a single dose in mice compared to the Wuhan-Hu-1 variant used in current vaccines. Antibodies raised against the engineered protein exhibited heterotypic binding to the RBD from two recently reported SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (501Y.V1/V2). Presentation of the engineered RBD on a designed virus-like particle (VLP) also reduced weight loss in hamsters upon viral challenge.

COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Protein Engineering/methods , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antigens, Viral , Binding Sites , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/economics , Humans , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Models, Molecular , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Saccharomycetales/metabolism , Vaccines, Subunit