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1.
Int J Mol Sci ; 23(19)2022 Oct 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2066139

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed more than 6.5 million lives worldwide, devastating the economy and overwhelming healthcare systems globally. The development of new drug molecules and vaccines has played a critical role in managing the pandemic; however, new variants of concern still pose a significant threat as the current vaccines cannot prevent all infections. This situation calls for the collaboration of biomedical scientists and healthcare workers across the world. Repurposing approved drugs is an effective way of fast-tracking new treatments for recently emerged diseases. To this end, we have assembled and curated a database consisting of 7817 compounds from the Compounds Australia Open Drug collection. We developed a set of eight filters based on indicators of efficacy and safety that were applied sequentially to down-select drugs that showed promise for drug repurposing efforts against SARS-CoV-2. Considerable effort was made to evaluate approximately 14,000 assay data points for SARS-CoV-2 FDA/TGA-approved drugs and provide an average activity score for 3539 compounds. The filtering process identified 12 FDA-approved molecules with established safety profiles that have plausible mechanisms for treating COVID-19 disease. The methodology developed in our study provides a template for prioritising drug candidates that can be repurposed for the safe, efficacious, and cost-effective treatment of COVID-19, long COVID, or any other future disease. We present our database in an easy-to-use interactive interface (CoviRx that was also developed to enable the scientific community to access to the data of over 7000 potential drugs and to implement alternative prioritisation and down-selection strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/drug therapy , Drug Repositioning , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
2.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 5680, 2022 04 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1931430

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the infectious disease COVID-19, which has rapidly become an international pandemic with significant impact on healthcare systems and the global economy. To assist antiviral therapy and vaccine development efforts, we performed a natural history/time course study of SARS-CoV-2 infection in ferrets to characterise and assess the suitability of this animal model. Ten ferrets of each sex were challenged intranasally with 4.64 × 104 TCID50 of SARS-CoV-2 isolate Australia/VIC01/2020 and monitored for clinical disease signs, viral shedding, and tissues collected post-mortem for histopathological and virological assessment at set intervals. We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicated in the upper respiratory tract of ferrets with consistent viral shedding in nasal wash samples and oral swab samples up until day 9. Infectious SARS-CoV-2 was recovered from nasal washes, oral swabs, nasal turbinates, pharynx, and olfactory bulb samples within 3-7 days post-challenge; however, only viral RNA was detected by qRT-PCR in samples collected from the trachea, lung, and parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Viral antigen was seen exclusively in nasal epithelium and associated sloughed cells and draining lymph nodes upon immunohistochemical staining. Due to the absence of clinical signs after viral challenge, our ferret model is appropriate for studying asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and most suitable for use in vaccine efficacy studies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Ferrets , Animals , Nasal Mucosa , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Load
3.
Front Immunol ; 13: 883612, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1875414

ABSTRACT

Plasma samples taken at different time points from donors who received either AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) or Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccine were assessed in virus neutralization assays against Delta and Omicron variants of concern and a reference isolate (VIC31). With the Pfizer vaccine there was 6-8-fold reduction in 50% neutralizing antibody titres (NT50) against Delta and VIC31 at 6 months compared to 2 weeks after the second dose; followed by 25-fold increase at 2 weeks after the third dose. Neutralisation of Omicron was only consistently observed 2 weeks after the third dose, with most samples having titres below the limit of detection at earlier timepoints. Moderna results were similar to Pfizer at 2 weeks after the second dose, while the titres for AstraZeneca samples derived from older donors were 7-fold lower against VIC31 and below the limit of detection against Delta and Omicron. Age and gender were not found to significantly impact our results. These findings indicate that vaccine matching may be needed, and that at least a third dose of these vaccines is necessary to generate sufficient neutralising antibodies against emerging variants of concern, especially Omicron, amidst the challenges of ensuring vaccine equity worldwide.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Viral Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccines, Inactivated
4.
Viruses ; 14(4)2022 04 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1786083

ABSTRACT

As existing vaccines fail to completely prevent COVID-19 infections or community transmission, there is an unmet need for vaccines that can better combat SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC). We previously developed highly thermo-tolerant monomeric and trimeric receptor-binding domain derivatives that can withstand 100 °C for 90 min and 37 °C for four weeks and help eliminate cold-chain requirements. We show that mice immunised with these vaccine formulations elicit high titres of antibodies that neutralise SARS-CoV-2 variants VIC31 (with Spike: D614G mutation), Delta and Omicron (BA.1.1) VOC. Compared to VIC31, there was an average 14.4-fold reduction in neutralisation against BA.1.1 for the three monomeric antigen-adjuvant combinations and a 16.5-fold reduction for the three trimeric antigen-adjuvant combinations; the corresponding values against Delta were 2.5 and 3.0. Our findings suggest that monomeric formulations are suitable for upcoming Phase I human clinical trials and that there is potential for increasing the efficacy with vaccine matching to improve the responses against emerging variants. These findings are consistent with in silico modelling and AlphaFold predictions, which show that, while oligomeric presentation can be generally beneficial, it can make important epitopes inaccessible and also carries the risk of eliciting unwanted antibodies against the oligomerisation domain.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Mice , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
5.
Front Immunol ; 12: 765211, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581337

ABSTRACT

Saturation suppressor mutagenesis was used to generate thermostable mutants of the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain (RBD). A triple mutant with an increase in thermal melting temperature of ~7°C with respect to the wild-type B.1 RBD and was expressed in high yield in both mammalian cells and the microbial host, Pichia pastoris, was downselected for immunogenicity studies. An additional derivative with three additional mutations from the B.1.351 (beta) isolate was also introduced into this background. Lyophilized proteins were resistant to high-temperature exposure and could be stored for over a month at 37°C. In mice and hamsters, squalene-in-water emulsion (SWE) adjuvanted formulations of the B.1-stabilized RBD were considerably more immunogenic than RBD lacking the stabilizing mutations and elicited antibodies that neutralized all four current variants of concern with similar neutralization titers. However, sera from mice immunized with the stabilized B.1.351 derivative showed significantly decreased neutralization titers exclusively against the B.1.617.2 (delta) VOC. A cocktail comprising stabilized B.1 and B.1.351 RBDs elicited antibodies with qualitatively improved neutralization titers and breadth relative to those immunized solely with either immunogen. Immunized hamsters were protected from high-dose viral challenge. Such vaccine formulations can be rapidly and cheaply produced, lack extraneous tags or additional components, and can be stored at room temperature. They are a useful modality to combat COVID-19, especially in remote and low-resource settings.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Cricetinae , Immunogenicity, Vaccine/immunology , Mice , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
6.
NPJ Vaccines ; 5: 96, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1343456

ABSTRACT

The 'D614G' mutation (Aspartate-to-Glycine change at position 614) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein has been speculated to adversely affect the efficacy of most vaccines and countermeasures that target this glycoprotein, necessitating frequent vaccine matching. Virus neutralisation assays were performed using sera from ferrets which received two doses of the INO-4800 COVID-19 vaccine, and Australian virus isolates (VIC01, SA01 and VIC31) which either possess or lack this mutation but are otherwise comparable. Through this approach, supported by biomolecular modelling of this mutation and the commonly-associated P314L mutation in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, we have shown that there is no experimental evidence to support this speculation. We additionally demonstrate that the putative elastase cleavage site introduced by the D614G mutation is unlikely to be accessible to proteases.

7.
ACS Infect Dis ; 7(8): 2546-2564, 2021 08 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309427

ABSTRACT

The receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 is the primary target of neutralizing antibodies. We designed a trimeric, highly thermotolerant glycan engineered RBD by fusion to a heterologous, poorly immunogenic disulfide linked trimerization domain derived from cartilage matrix protein. The protein expressed at a yield of ∼80-100 mg/L in transiently transfected Expi293 cells, as well as CHO and HEK293 stable cell lines and formed homogeneous disulfide-linked trimers. When lyophilized, these possessed remarkable functional stability to transient thermal stress of up to 100 °C and were stable to long-term storage of over 4 weeks at 37 °C unlike an alternative RBD-trimer with a different trimerization domain. Two intramuscular immunizations with a human-compatible SWE adjuvanted formulation elicited antibodies with pseudoviral neutralizing titers in guinea pigs and mice that were 25-250 fold higher than corresponding values in human convalescent sera. Against the beta (B.1.351) variant of concern (VOC), pseudoviral neutralization titers for RBD trimer were ∼3-fold lower than against wildtype B.1 virus. RBD was also displayed on a designed ferritin-like Msdps2 nanoparticle. This showed decreased yield and immunogenicity relative to trimeric RBD. Replicative virus neutralization assays using mouse sera demonstrated that antibodies induced by the trimers neutralized all four VOC to date, namely B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, and B.1.617.2 without significant differences. Trimeric RBD immunized hamsters were protected from viral challenge. The excellent immunogenicity, thermotolerance, and high yield of these immunogens suggest that they are a promising modality to combat COVID-19, including all SARS-CoV-2 VOC to date.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Thermotolerance , Animals , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/therapy , Guinea Pigs , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Mice , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
8.
Front Immunol ; 12: 694857, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305648

ABSTRACT

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant global morbidity and mortality on a scale similar to the influenza pandemic of 1918. Over the course of the last few months, a number of SARS-CoV-2 variants have been identified against which vaccine-induced immune responses may be less effective. These "variants-of-concern" have garnered significant attention in the media, with discussion around their impact on the future of the pandemic and the ability of leading COVID-19 vaccines to protect against them effectively. To address concerns about emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants affecting vaccine-induced immunity, we investigated the neutralisation of representative 'G614', '501Y.V1' and '501Y.V2' virus isolates using sera from ferrets that had received prime-boost doses of the DNA vaccine, INO-4800. Neutralisation titres against G614 and 501Y.V1 were comparable, but titres against the 501Y.V2 variant were approximately 4-fold lower, similar to results reported with other nucleic acid vaccines and supported by in silico biomolecular modelling. The results confirm that the vaccine-induced neutralising antibodies generated by INO-4800 remain effective against current variants-of-concern, albeit with lower neutralisation titres against 501Y.V2 similar to other leading nucleic acid-based vaccines.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Antigenic Variation , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets , Humans , Immunization, Secondary , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Models, Molecular , Mutation/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vaccination
9.
ILAR J ; 62(1-2): 232-237, 2021 12 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1280105

ABSTRACT

This case report discusses Type I hypersensitivity in ferrets following exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) inoculum, observed during a study investigating the efficacy of candidate COVID-19 vaccines. Following a comprehensive internal root-cause investigation, it was hypothesized that prior prime-boost immunization of ferrets with a commercial canine C3 vaccine to protect against the canine distemper virus had resulted in primary immune response to fetal bovine serum (FBS) in the C3 preparation. Upon intranasal exposure to SARS-CoV-2 virus cultured in medium containing FBS, an allergic airway response occurred in 6 out of 56 of the ferrets. The 6 impacted ferrets were randomly dispersed across study groups, including different COVID-19 vaccine candidates, routes of vaccine candidate administration, and controls (placebo). The root-cause investigation and subsequent analysis determined that the allergic reaction was unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccine candidates under evaluation. Histological assessment suggested that the allergic response was characterized by eosinophilic airway disease; increased serum immunoglobulin levels reactive to FBS further suggested this response was caused by immune priming to FBS present in the C3 vaccine. This was further supported by in vivo studies demonstrating ferrets administered diluted FBS also presented clinical signs consistent with a hyperallergic response, while clinical signs were absent in ferrets that received a serum-free SARS-CoV-2 inoculum. It is therefore recommended that vaccine studies in higher order animals should consider the impact of welfare vaccination and use serum-free inoculum whenever possible.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Hypersensitivity, Immediate , Viral Vaccines , Animals , COVID-19 Vaccines , Dogs , Ferrets , SARS-CoV-2
10.
Metabolites ; 11(5)2021 May 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1234777

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a contagious respiratory disease that is causing significant global morbidity and mortality. Understanding the impact of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection on the host metabolism is still in its infancy but of great importance. Herein, we investigated the metabolic response during viral shedding and post-shedding in an asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 ferret model (n = 6) challenged with two SARS-CoV-2 isolates. Virological and metabolic analyses were performed on (minimally invasive) collected oral swabs, rectal swabs, and nasal washes. Fragments of SARS-CoV-2 RNA were only found in the nasal wash samples in four of the six ferrets, and in the samples collected 3 to 9 days post-infection (referred to as viral shedding). Central carbon metabolism metabolites were analyzed during viral shedding and post-shedding periods using a dynamic Multiple Reaction Monitoring (dMRM) database and method. Subsequent untargeted metabolomics and lipidomics of the same samples were performed using a Liquid Chromatography Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (LC-QToF-MS) methodology, building upon the identified differentiated central carbon metabolism metabolites. Multivariate analysis of the acquired data identified 29 significant metabolites and three lipids that were subjected to pathway enrichment and impact analysis. The presence of viral shedding coincided with the challenge dose administered and significant changes in the citric acid cycle, purine metabolism, and pentose phosphate pathways, amongst others, in the host nasal wash samples. An elevated immune response in the host was also observed between the two isolates studied. These results support other metabolomic-based findings in clinical observational studies and indicate the utility of metabolomics applied to ferrets for further COVID-19 research that advances early diagnosis of asymptomatic and mild clinical COVID-19 infections, in addition to assessing the effectiveness of new or repurposed drug therapies.

11.
NPJ Vaccines ; 6(1): 67, 2021 May 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1223093

ABSTRACT

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are likely to be critical in the management of the ongoing pandemic. A number of candidates are in Phase III human clinical trials, including ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222), a replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine candidate. In preclinical trials, the efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 against SARS-CoV-2 challenge was evaluated in a ferret model of infection. Groups of ferrets received either prime-only or prime-boost administration of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 via the intramuscular or intranasal route. All ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 administration combinations resulted in significant reductions in viral loads in nasal-wash and oral swab samples. No vaccine-associated adverse events were observed associated with the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 candidate, with the data from this study suggesting it could be an effective and safe vaccine against COVID-19. Our study also indicates the potential for intranasal administration as a way to further improve the efficacy of this leading vaccine candidate.

12.
Transbound Emerg Dis ; 69(2): 297-307, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1007329

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an emerging virus that has caused significant human morbidity and mortality since its detection in late 2019. With the rapid emergence has come an unprecedented programme of vaccine development with at least 300 candidates under development. Ferrets have proven to be an appropriate animal model for testing safety and efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines due to quantifiable virus shedding in nasal washes and oral swabs. Here, we outline our efforts early in the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak to propagate and characterize an Australian isolate of the virus in vitro and in an ex vivo model of human airway epithelium, as well as to demonstrate the susceptibility of domestic ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) to SARS-CoV-2 infection following intranasal challenge.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Ferrets , Animals , Australia , COVID-19/veterinary , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
13.
Transbound Emerg Dis ; 67(4): 1453-1462, 2020 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-71844

ABSTRACT

Pre-clinical responses to fast-moving infectious disease outbreaks heavily depend on choosing the best isolates for animal models that inform diagnostics, vaccines and treatments. Current approaches are driven by practical considerations (e.g. first available virus isolate) rather than a detailed analysis of the characteristics of the virus strain chosen, which can lead to animal models that are not representative of the circulating or emerging clusters. Here, we suggest a combination of epidemiological, experimental and bioinformatic considerations when choosing virus strains for animal model generation. We discuss the currently chosen SARS-CoV-2 strains for international coronavirus disease (COVID-19) models in the context of their phylogeny as well as in a novel alignment-free bioinformatic approach. Unlike phylogenetic trees, which focus on individual shared mutations, this new approach assesses genome-wide co-developing functionalities and hence offers a more fluid view of the 'cloud of variances' that RNA viruses are prone to accumulate. This joint approach concludes that while the current animal models cover the existing viral strains adequately, there is substantial evolutionary activity that is likely not considered by the current models. Based on insights from the non-discrete alignment-free approach and experimental observations, we suggest isolates for future animal models.


Subject(s)
Computational Biology , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Genomics , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Animals , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Biological Evolution , COVID-19 , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2
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