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1.
Molecular Therapy - Methods & Clinical Development ; 2023.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-20238249

ABSTRACT

Recombinant adeno-associated viruses (rAAVs) are a preferred vector system in clinical gene transfer. A fundamental challenge to formulate and deliver rAAVs as stable and efficacious vaccines is to elucidate interrelationships between the vector's physicochemical properties and biological potency. To this end, we evaluated an rAAV-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate which encodes the Spike antigen (AC3) and is produced by a commercially viable process. First, state-of-the-art analytical techniques were employed to determine key structural attributes of AC3 including primary and higher-order structures, particle size, empty/full capsid ratios, aggregates and multi-step thermal degradation pathway analysis. Next, several quantitative potency measures for AC3 were implemented and data were correlated with the physicochemical analyses on thermal-stressed and control samples. Results demonstrate links between decreasing AC3 physical stability profiles, in vitro transduction efficiency in a cell-based assay, and importantly, in vivo immunogenicity in a mouse model. These findings are discussed in the general context of future development of rAAV-based vaccines candidates as well as specifically for the rAAV vaccine application under study.

2.
Nat Commun ; 14(1): 2149, 2023 04 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2305599

ABSTRACT

While the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines has been a scientific triumph, the need remains for a globally available vaccine that provides longer-lasting immunity against present and future SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs). Here, we describe DCFHP, a ferritin-based, protein-nanoparticle vaccine candidate that, when formulated with aluminum hydroxide as the sole adjuvant (DCFHP-alum), elicits potent and durable neutralizing antisera in non-human primates against known VOCs, including Omicron BQ.1, as well as against SARS-CoV-1. Following a booster ~one year after the initial immunization, DCFHP-alum elicits a robust anamnestic response. To enable global accessibility, we generated a cell line that can enable production of thousands of vaccine doses per liter of cell culture and show that DCFHP-alum maintains potency for at least 14 days at temperatures exceeding standard room temperature. DCFHP-alum has potential as a once-yearly (or less frequent) booster vaccine, and as a primary vaccine for pediatric use including in infants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Geranium , Nanoparticles , Animals , Humans , COVID-19 Vaccines , Ferritins , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , Immune Sera , Primates , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral
3.
Biotechnol Bioeng ; 2023 Mar 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2278552

ABSTRACT

Analytical characterization of proteins is a critical task for developing therapeutics and subunit vaccine candidates. Assessing candidates with a battery of biophysical assays can inform the selection of one that exhibits properties consistent with a given target product profile (TPP). Such assessments, however, require several milligrams of purified protein, and ideal assessments of the physicochemical attributes of the proteins should not include unnatural modifications like peptide tags for purification. Here, we describe a fast two-stage minimal purification process for recombinant proteins secreted by the yeast host Komagataella phaffii from a 20 mL culture supernatant. This method comprises a buffer exchange and filtration with a Q-membrane filter and we demonstrate sufficient removal of key supernatant impurities including host-cell proteins (HCPs) and DNA with yields of 1-2 mg and >60% purity. This degree of purity enables characterizing the resulting proteins using affinity binding, mass spectrometry, and differential scanning calorimetry. We first evaluated this method to purify an engineered SARS-CoV-2 subunit protein antigen and compared the purified protein to a conventional two-step chromatographic process. We then applied this method to compare several SARS-CoV-2 RBD sequences. Finally, we show this simple process can be applied to a range of other proteins, including a single-domain antibody, a rotavirus protein subunit, and a human growth hormone. This simple and fast developability methodology obviates the need for genetic tagging or full chromatographic development when assessing and comparing early-stage protein therapeutics and vaccine candidates produced in K. phaffii.

4.
J Pharm Sci ; 112(4): 974-984, 2023 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2241448

ABSTRACT

Adenovirus vectors have become an important class of vaccines with the recent approval of Ebola and COVID-19 products. In-process quality attribute data collected during Adenovirus vector manufacturing has focused on particle concentration and infectivity ratios (based on viral genome: cell-based infectivity), and data suggest only a fraction of viral particles present in the final vaccine product are efficacious. To better understand this product heterogeneity, lab-scale preparations of two Adenovirus viral vectors, (Chimpanzee adenovirus (ChAdOx1) and Human adenovirus Type 5 (Ad5), were studied using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Different adenovirus morphologies were characterized, and the proportion of empty and full viral particles were quantified. These proportions showed a qualitative correlation with the sample's infectivity values. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) peptide mapping was used to identify key adenovirus proteins involved in viral maturation. Using peptide abundance analysis, a ∼5-fold change in L1 52/55k abundance was observed between low-(empty) and high-density (full) fractions taken from CsCl ultracentrifugation preparations of ChAdOx1 virus. The L1 52/55k viral protein is associated with DNA packaging and is cleaved during viral maturation, so it may be a marker for infective particles. TEM and LC-MS peptide mapping are promising higher-resolution analytical characterization tools to help differentiate between relative proportions of empty, non-infectious, and infectious viral particles as part of Adenovirus vector in-process monitoring, and these results are an encouraging initial step to better differentiate between the different product-related impurities.


Subject(s)
Adenoviruses, Human , COVID-19 , Humans , Capsid/chemistry , Capsid/metabolism , Viral Proteins/analysis , Adenoviridae/genetics , Adenoviruses, Human/genetics , Genetic Vectors
5.
Vaccine ; 41(5): 1108-1118, 2023 01 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2165932

ABSTRACT

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.


Subject(s)
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
6.
Hum Vaccin Immunother ; 18(5): 2079346, 2022 11 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1878720

ABSTRACT

Low-cost, refrigerator-stable COVID-19 vaccines will facilitate global access and improve vaccine coverage in low- and middle-income countries. To this end, subunit-based approaches targeting the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein remain attractive. Antibodies against RBD neutralize SARS-CoV-2 by blocking viral attachment to the host cell receptor, ACE2. Here, a yeast-produced recombinant RBD antigen (RBD-L452K-F490W or RBD-J) was formulated with various combinations of aluminum-salt (Alhydrogel®, AH; AdjuPhos®, AP) and CpG 1018 adjuvants. We assessed the effect of antigen-adjuvant interactions on the stability and mouse immunogenicity of various RBD-J preparations. While RBD-J was 50% adsorbed to AH and <15% to AP, addition of CpG resulted in complete AH binding, yet no improvement in AP adsorption. ACE2 competition ELISA analyses of formulated RBD-J stored at varying temperatures (4, 25, 37°C) revealed that RBD-J was destabilized by AH, an effect exacerbated by CpG. DSC studies demonstrated that aluminum-salt and CpG adjuvants decrease the conformational stability of RBD-J and suggest a direct CpG-RBD-J interaction. Although AH+CpG-adjuvanted RBD-J was the least stable in vitro, the formulation was most potent at eliciting SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus neutralizing antibodies in mice. In contrast, RBD-J formulated with AP+CpG showed minimal antigen-adjuvant interactions, a better stability profile, but suboptimal immune responses. Interestingly, the loss of in vivo potency associated with heat-stressed RBD-J formulated with AH+CpG after one dose was abrogated by a booster. Our findings highlight the importance of elucidating the key interrelationships between antigen-adjuvant interactions, storage stability, and in vivo performance to enable successful formulation development of stable and efficacious subunit vaccines.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Mice , Humans , Animals , COVID-19 Vaccines , Aluminum , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , COVID-19/prevention & control , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Adjuvants, Immunologic , Antibodies, Viral , Antibodies, Neutralizing
7.
Sci Adv ; 8(11): eabl6015, 2022 Mar 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1745843

ABSTRACT

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.

8.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(38)2021 09 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1397979

ABSTRACT

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.


Subject(s)
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
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