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Vaccine ; 40(9): 1289-1298, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1661921


The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, especially Beta and Delta, has raised concerns about the reduced protection from previous infection or vaccination based on the original Wuhan-Hu-1 (D614) virus. To identify promising regimens for inducing neutralizing titers towards new variants, we evaluated monovalent and bivalent mRNA vaccines either as primary vaccination or as a booster in nonhuman primates (NHPs). Two mRNA vaccines, D614-based MRT5500 and Beta-based MRT5500ß, tested in sequential regimens or as a bivalent combination in naïve NHPs produced modest neutralizing titers to heterologous variants. However, when mRNA vaccines were administered as a booster to pre-immune NHPs, we observed a robust increase in neutralizing titers with expanded breadth towards all tested variants, and notably SARS-CoV-1. The breadth of the neutralizing response was independent of vaccine sequence or modality, as we further showed either MRT5500 or recombinant subunit Spike protein (with adjuvant) can serve as boosters to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies in the NHPs primed with MRT5500. The data support the notion that a third vaccination is key to boosting existing titers and improving the breadth of antibodies to address variants of concern, including those with an E484K mutation in the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) (Beta, Gamma).

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Primates , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Vaccination
NPJ Vaccines ; 6(1): 153, 2021 Dec 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585845


Recent approval of mRNA vaccines for emergency use against COVID-19 is likely to promote rapid development of mRNA-based vaccines targeting a wide range of infectious diseases. Compared to conventional approaches, this vaccine modality promises comparable potency while substantially accelerating the pace of development and deployment of vaccine doses. Already demonstrated successfully for single antigen vaccines such as for COVID-19, this technology could be optimized for complex multi-antigen vaccines. Herein, utilizing multiple influenza antigens, we demonstrated the suitability of the mRNA therapeutic (MRT) platform for such applications. Seasonal influenza vaccines have three or four hemagglutinin (HA) antigens of different viral subtypes. In addition, influenza neuraminidase (NA), a tetrameric membrane protein, is identified as an antigen that has been linked to protective immunity against severe viral disease. We detail the efforts in optimizing formulations of influenza candidates that use unmodified mRNA encoding full-length HA or full-length NA encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles (LNPs). HA and NA mRNA-LNP formulations, either as monovalent or as multivalent vaccines, induced strong functional antibody and cellular responses in non-human primates and such antigen-specific antibody responses were associated with protective efficacy against viral challenge in mice.

Sci Transl Med ; 13(607)2021 08 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1329034


Adjuvanted soluble protein vaccines have been used extensively in humans for protection against various viral infections based on their robust induction of antibody responses. Here, soluble prefusion-stabilized spike protein trimers (preS dTM) from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) were formulated with the adjuvant AS03 and administered twice to nonhuman primates (NHPs). Binding and functional neutralization assays and systems serology revealed that the vaccinated NHP developed AS03-dependent multifunctional humoral responses that targeted distinct domains of the spike protein and bound to a variety of Fc receptors mediating immune cell effector functions in vitro. The neutralizing 50% inhibitory concentration titers for pseudovirus and live SARS-CoV-2 were higher than titers for a panel of human convalescent serum samples. NHPs were challenged intranasally and intratracheally with a high dose (3 × 106 plaque forming units) of SARS-CoV-2 (USA-WA1/2020 isolate). Two days after challenge, vaccinated NHPs showed rapid control of viral replication in both the upper and lower airways. Vaccinated NHPs also had increased spike protein-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody responses in the lung as early as 2 days after challenge. Moreover, passive transfer of vaccine-induced IgG to hamsters mediated protection from subsequent SARS-CoV-2 challenge. These data show that antibodies induced by the AS03-adjuvanted preS dTM vaccine were sufficient to mediate protection against SARS-CoV-2 in NHPs and that rapid anamnestic antibody responses in the lung may be a key mechanism for protection.

COVID-19 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/therapy , Cricetinae , Immunization, Passive , Lung , Primates , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
NPJ Vaccines ; 6(1): 61, 2021 Apr 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1193587


Emergency use authorization of COVID vaccines has brought hope to mitigate pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, there remains a need for additional effective vaccines to meet the global demand and address the potential new viral variants. mRNA technologies offer an expeditious path alternative to traditional vaccine approaches. Here we describe the efforts to utilize an mRNA platform for rational design and evaluations of mRNA vaccine candidates based on the spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. Several mRNA constructs of S-protein, including wild type, a pre-fusion stabilized mutant (2P), a furin cleavage-site mutant (GSAS) and a double mutant form (2P/GSAS), as well as others, were tested in animal models for their capacity to elicit neutralizing antibodies (nAbs). The lead 2P/GSAS candidate was further assessed in dose-ranging studies in mice and Cynomolgus macaques, and for efficacy in a Syrian golden hamster model. The selected 2P/GSAS vaccine formulation, designated MRT5500, elicited potent nAbs as measured in neutralization assays in all three preclinical models and more importantly, protected against SARS-CoV-2-induced weight loss and lung pathology in hamsters. In addition, MRT5500 elicited TH1-biased responses in both mouse and non-human primate (NHP), thus alleviating a hypothetical concern of potential vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory diseases known associated with TH2-biased responses. These data position MRT5500 as a viable vaccine candidate for entering clinical development.