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1.
Arch Toxicol ; 96(8): 2329-2339, 2022 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1930384

ABSTRACT

BriLife®, a vector-based vaccine that utilizes the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) platform to express and present the spike antigen of SARS-CoV-2, is undergoing testing in a phase 2 clinical trial in Israel. A nonclinical repeated-dose (GLP) toxicity study in New Zealand white rabbits was performed to evaluate the potential toxicity, local tolerance, immunogenicity and biodistribution of the vaccine. rVSV-ΔG-SARS-CoV-2-S (or vehicle) was administered intramuscularly to two groups of animals (106, 107 PFU/animal, n = 10/sex/group) on three occasions, at 2-week intervals, followed by a 3-week recovery period. Systemic clinical signs, local reactions, body weight, body temperature, food consumption, ophthalmology, urinalysis, clinical pathology, C-reactive protein, viremia and antibody levels were monitored. Gross pathology was performed, followed by organs/tissues collection for biodistribution and histopathological evaluation. Treatment-related changes were restricted to multifocal minimal myofiber necrosis at the injection sites, and increased lymphocytic cellularity in the iliac and mesenteric lymph nodes and in the spleen. These changes were considered related to the inflammatory reaction elicited, and correlated with a trend for recovery. Detection of rVSV-ΔG-SARS-CoV-2-S vaccine RNA was noted in the regional iliac lymph node in animals assigned to the high-dose group, at both termination time points. A significant increase in binding and neutralizing antibody titers was observed following vaccination at both vaccine doses. In view of the findings, it was concluded that the rVSV-ΔG-SARS-CoV-2-S vaccine is safe. These results supported the initiation of clinical trials.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/adverse effects , Rabbits , SARS-CoV-2 , Tissue Distribution
2.
Toxicol Pathol ; 50(3): 294-307, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1832956

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and there is a growing demand for safe and effective vaccines. The thermophilic Thermothelomyces heterothallica filamentous fungal host, C1-cell, can be utilized as an expression platform for the rapid production of large quantities of antigens for developing vaccines. The aim of this study was to evaluate the local tolerance and the systemic toxicity of a C1-cell expressed receptor-binding domain (C1-RBD) vaccine, following repeated weekly intramuscular injections (total of 4 administrations), in New Zealand White rabbits. The animals were sacrificed either 3 days or 3 weeks following the last dose. No signs of toxicity were observed, including no injection site reactions. ELISA studies revealed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific immunoglobulin G antibodies in the sera of C1-RBD-treated animals starting from day 13 post injection, that were further elevated. Histopathology evaluation and immunohistochemical staining revealed follicular hyperplasia, consisting of B-cell type, in the spleen and inguinal lymph nodes of the treated animals that were sustained throughout the recovery phase. No local or systemic toxicity was observed. In conclusion, the SARS-CoV-2 C1-RBD vaccine candidate demonstrated an excellent safety profile and a lasting immunogenic response against receptor-binding domain, thus supporting its further development for use in humans.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Rabbits , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
3.
Arch Toxicol ; 96(3): 859-875, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1634984

ABSTRACT

rVSV-ΔG-SARS-CoV-2-S is a clinical stage (Phase 2) replication competent recombinant vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. To evaluate the safety profile of the vaccine, a series of non-clinical safety, immunogenicity and efficacy studies were conducted in four animal species, using multiple doses (up to 108 Plaque Forming Units/animal) and dosing regimens. There were no treatment-related mortalities or any noticeable clinical signs in any of the studies. Compared to unvaccinated controls, hematology and biochemistry parameters were unremarkable and no adverse histopathological findings. There was no detectable viral shedding in urine, nor viral RNA detected in whole blood or serum samples seven days post vaccination. The rVSV-ΔG-SARS-CoV-2-S vaccination gave rise to neutralizing antibodies, cellular immune responses, and increased lymphocytic cellularity in the spleen germinal centers and regional lymph nodes. No evidence for neurovirulence was found in C57BL/6 immune competent mice or in highly sensitive type I interferon knock-out mice. Vaccine virus replication and distribution in K18-human Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2-transgenic mice showed a gradual clearance from the vaccination site with no vaccine virus recovered from the lungs. The nonclinical data suggest that the rVSV-ΔG-SARS-CoV-2-S vaccine is safe and immunogenic. These results supported the initiation of clinical trials, currently in Phase 2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/toxicity , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Cricetinae , Female , Membrane Glycoproteins/genetics , Mesocricetus , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Rabbits , Swine , Vaccination , Vaccines, Synthetic/toxicity , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics
4.
Mol Ther ; 30(1): 311-326, 2022 01 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1450246

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has made the development of safe and effective vaccines a critical priority. To date, four vaccines have been approved by European and American authorities for preventing COVID-19, but the development of additional vaccine platforms with improved supply and logistics profiles remains a pressing need. Here we report the preclinical evaluation of a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on the electroporation of engineered, synthetic cDNA encoding a viral antigen in the skeletal muscle. We constructed a set of prototype DNA vaccines expressing various forms of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein and assessed their immunogenicity in animal models. Among them, COVID-eVax-a DNA plasmid encoding a secreted monomeric form of SARS-CoV-2 S protein receptor-binding domain (RBD)-induced the most potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody responses (including against the current most common variants of concern) and a robust T cell response. Upon challenge with SARS-CoV-2, immunized K18-hACE2 transgenic mice showed reduced weight loss, improved pulmonary function, and lower viral replication in the lungs and brain. COVID-eVax conferred significant protection to ferrets upon SARS-CoV-2 challenge. In summary, this study identifies COVID-eVax as an ideal COVID-19 vaccine candidate suitable for clinical development. Accordingly, a combined phase I-II trial has recently started.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19/prevention & control , Immunization/methods , Models, Animal , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vaccines, DNA/administration & dosage , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Female , Ferrets , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Protein Domains , Rats, Sprague-Dawley
5.
Toxicol Pathol ; 49(7): 1255-1268, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1398800

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 is a rapidly spreading disease, posing a huge hazard to global health. The plasmid vaccine pTK1A-TPA-SpikeA (named COVID-eVax) encodes the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 S protein receptor-binding domain, developed for intramuscular injection followed by electroporation (EP). The aim of this study was to assess the systemic toxicity and local tolerance of COVID-eVax delivered intramuscularly followed by EP in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats. The animals were killed 2 days and 4 weeks after the last injection (30-day and 57-day, respectively). No mortality was observed, and no signs of toxicity were evident, including injection site reactions. A lasting and specific immune response was observed in all treated animals, confirming the relevance of the rat as a toxicological model for this vaccine. Histopathological evaluation revealed muscle fiber necrosis associated with subchronic inflammation at the injection sites (at the 30-day time point), with a clear trend for recovery at the 57-day time point, which is expected following EP, and considered a desirable effect to mount the immune response against the target antigen. In conclusion, the intramuscular EP-assisted DNA vaccine, COVID-eVax showed an excellent safety profile in SD rats under these experimental conditions and supports its further development for use in humans.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Vaccines, DNA , Animals , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19 Vaccines , Electroporation , Humans , Plasmids , Rats , Rats, Sprague-Dawley , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccines, DNA/toxicity
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