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biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.02.07.479468


The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in 2019 has led to the development of a large number of vaccines, several of which are now approved for use in humans. Understanding vaccine-elicited antibody responses against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) in real time is key to inform public health policies. Serum neutralizing antibody titers are the current best correlate of protection from SARS-CoV-2 challenge in non-human primates and a key metric to understand immune evasion of VOC. We report that vaccinated BALB/c mice do not recapitulate faithfully the breadth and potency of neutralizing antibody responses against VOC, as compared to non-human primates or humans, suggesting caution should be exercised when interpreting data for this animal model.

Coronavirus Infections
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.05.15.444222


The unprecedented global demand for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines has demonstrated the need for highly effective vaccine candidates that are thermostable and amenable to large-scale manufacturing. Nanoparticle immunogens presenting the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein (S) in repetitive arrays are being advanced as second-generation vaccine candidates, as they feature robust manufacturing characteristics and have shown promising immunogenicity in preclinical models. Here, we used previously reported deep mutational scanning (DMS) data to guide the design of stabilized variants of the RBD. The selected mutations fill a cavity in the RBD that has been identified as a linoleic acid binding pocket. Screening of several designs led to the selection of two lead candidates that expressed at higher yields than the wild-type RBD. These stabilized RBDs possess enhanced thermal stability and resistance to aggregation, particularly when incorporated into an icosahedral nanoparticle immunogen that maintained its integrity and antigenicity for 28 days at 35-40{degrees}C, while corresponding immunogens displaying the wild-type RBD experienced aggregation and loss of antigenicity. The stabilized immunogens preserved the potent immunogenicity of the original nanoparticle immunogen, which is currently being evaluated in a Phase I/II clinical trial. Our findings may improve the scalability and stability of RBD-based coronavirus vaccines in any format and more generally highlight the utility of comprehensive DMS data in guiding vaccine design.

Blood Platelet Disorders , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.03.15.435528


Understanding the ability of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-elicited antibodies to neutralize and protect against emerging variants of concern and other sarbecoviruses is key for guiding vaccine development decisions and public health policies. We show that a clinical stage multivalent SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain nanoparticle vaccine (SARS-CoV-2 RBD-NP) protects mice from SARS-CoV-2-induced disease after a single shot, indicating that the vaccine could allow dose-sparing. SARS-CoV-2 RBD-NP elicits high antibody titers in two non-human primate (NHP) models against multiple distinct RBD antigenic sites known to be recognized by neutralizing antibodies. We benchmarked NHP serum neutralizing activity elicited by RBD-NP against a lead prefusion-stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike immunogen using a panel of single-residue spike mutants detected in clinical isolates as well as the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants of concern. Polyclonal antibodies elicited by both vaccines are resilient to most RBD mutations tested, but the E484K substitution has similar negative consequences for neutralization, and exhibit modest but comparable neutralization breadth against distantly related sarbecoviruses. We demonstrate that mosaic and cocktail sarbecovirus RBD-NPs elicit broad sarbecovirus neutralizing activity, including against the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 variant, and protect mice against severe SARS-CoV challenge even in the absence of the SARS-CoV RBD in the vaccine. This study provides proof of principle that sarbecovirus RBD-NPs induce heterotypic protection and enables advancement of broadly protective sarbecovirus vaccines to the clinic.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.02.10.430696


The development of a portfolio of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to vaccinate the global population remains an urgent public health imperative. Here, we demonstrate the capacity of a subunit vaccine under clinical development, comprising the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein receptor-binding domain displayed on a two-component protein nanoparticle (RBD-NP), to stimulate robust and durable neutralizing antibody (nAb) responses and protection against SARS-CoV-2 in non-human primates. We evaluated five different adjuvants combined with RBD-NP including Essai O/W 1849101, a squalene-in-water emulsion; AS03, an alpha-tocopherol-containing squalene-based oil-in-water emulsion used in pandemic influenza vaccines; AS37, a TLR-7 agonist adsorbed to Alum; CpG 1018-Alum (CpG-Alum), a TLR-9 agonist formulated in Alum; or Alum, the most widely used adjuvant. All five adjuvants induced substantial nAb and CD4 T cell responses after two consecutive immunizations. Durable nAb responses were evaluated for RBD-NP/AS03 immunization and the live-virus nAb response was durably maintained up to 154 days post-vaccination. AS03, CpG-Alum, AS37 and Alum groups conferred significant protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the pharynges, nares and in the bronchoalveolar lavage. The nAb titers were highly correlated with protection against infection. Furthermore, RBD-NP when used in conjunction with AS03 was as potent as the prefusion stabilized Spike immunogen, HexaPro. Taken together, these data highlight the efficacy of the RBD-NP formulated with clinically relevant adjuvants in promoting robust immunity against SARS-CoV-2 in non-human primates.