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1.
researchsquare; 2022.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-RESEARCHSQUARE | ID: ppzbmed-10.21203.rs.3.rs-2301923.v1

ABSTRACT

The ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic has fostered major advances in vaccination technologies; however, there are urgent needs of mucosal immune responses and single-dose, non-invasive administration. Here, we develop a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for single-dose, dry-powder aerosol inhalation that induces potent systemic and mucosal immune responses. Our vaccine encapsulates proteinaceous cholera toxin B subunit-assembled nanoparticles displaying the SARS-CoV-2 RBD antigen (R-CNP) within microcapsules of optimal aerodynamic size, and such unique nano-micro coupled structure supports efficient alveoli delivery, sustained R-CNP release, and antigen presenting cell uptake, which are favorable for invocation of immune responses. Moreover, our vaccine successfully induces robust serological IgG and secretory IgA production, collectively conferring effective protection from SARS-CoV-2 challenge (including pseudovirus and the authentic virus) in mice, hamsters, and non-human primates. Finally, we also demonstrate a “mosaic iteration” of our vaccine that co-displays ancestral and Omicron’s antigens, thus extending the breadth of antibody response against co-circulating strains and transmission of Omicron variant. These findings support our inhalable vaccine as a promising candidate to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, disease, and transmission.

2.
medrxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.04.09.22273653

ABSTRACT

BackgroundSARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant BA.1 first emerged on the Chinese mainland in January 2022 in Tianjin and caused a large wave of infections. During mass PCR testing, a total of 430 cases infected with Omicron were recorded between January 8 and February 7, 2022, with no new infections detected for the following 16 days. Most patients had been vaccinated with SARS-CoV-2 inactivated vaccines. The disease profile associated with BA.1 infection, especially after vaccination with inactivated vaccines, is unclear. Whether BA.1 breakthrough infection after receiving inactivated vaccine could create a strong enough humoral immunity barrier against Omicron is not yet investigated. MethodsWe collected the clinical information and vaccination history of the 430 COVID-19 patients infected with Omicron BA.1. Re-positive cases and inflammation markers were monitored during the patients convalescence phase. Ordered multiclass logistic regression model was used to identify risk factors for COVID-19 disease severity. Authentic virus neutralization assays against SARS-CoV-2 wildtype, Beta and Omicron BA.1 were conducted to examine the plasma neutralizing titers induced after post-vaccination Omicron BA.1 infection, and were compared to a group of uninfected healthy individuals who were selected to have a matched vaccination profile. FindingsAmong the 430 patients, 316 (73.5%) were adults with a median age of 47 years, and 114 (26.5%) were under-age with a median age of 10 years. Female and male patients account for 55.6% and 44.4%, respectively. Most of the patients presented with mild (47.7%) to moderate diseases (50.2%), with only 2 severe cases (0.5%) and 7 (1.6%) asymptomatic infections. No death was recorded. 341 (79.3%) of the 430 patients received inactivated vaccines (54.3% BBIBP-CorV vs. 45.5% CoronaVac), 49 (11.4%) received adenovirus-vectored vaccines (Ad5-nCoV), 2 (0.5%) received recombinant protein subunit vaccines (ZF2001), and 38 (8.8%) received no vaccination. No vaccination is associated with a substantially higher ICU admission rate among Omicron BA.1 infected patients (2.0% for vaccinated patients vs. 23.7% for unvaccinated patients, P<0.001). Compared with adults, child patients presented with less severe illness (82.5% mild cases for children vs. 35.1% for adults, P<0.001), no ICU admission, fewer comorbidities (3.5% vs. 53.2%, P<0.001), and less chance of turning re-positive on nucleic acid tests (12.3% vs. 22.5%, P=0.019). For adult patients, compared with no prior vaccination, receiving 3 doses of inactivated vaccine was associated with significantly lower risk of severe disease (OR 0.227 [0.065-0.787], P=0.020), less ICU admission (OR 0.023 [0.002-0.214], P=0.001), lower re-positive rate on PCR (OR 0.240 [0.098-0.587], P=0.002), and shorter duration of hospitalization and recovery (OR 0.233 [0.091-0.596], P=0.002). At the beginning of the convalescence phase, patients who had received 3 doses of inactivated vaccine had substantially lower systemic immune-inflammation index (SII) and C-reactive protein than unvaccinated patients, while CD4+/CD8+ ratio, activated Treg cells and Th1/Th2 ratio were higher compared to their 2-dose counterparts, suggesting that receipt of 3 doses of inactivated vaccine could step up inflammation resolution after infection. Plasma neutralization titers against Omicron, Beta, and wildtype significantly increased after breakthrough infection with Omicron. Moderate symptoms were associated with higher plasma neutralization titers than mild symptoms. However, vaccination profiles prior to infection, whether 2 doses versus 3 doses or types of vaccines, had no significant effect on post-infection neutralization titer. Among recipients of 3 doses of CoronaVac, infection with Omicron BA.1 largely increased neutralization titers against Omicron BA.1 (8.7x), Beta (4.5x), and wildtype (2.2x), compared with uninfected healthy individuals who have a matched vaccination profile. InterpretationReceipt of 3-dose inactivated vaccines can substantially reduce the disease severity of Omicron BA.1 infection, with most vaccinated patients presenting with mild to moderate illness. Child patients present with less severe disease than adult patients after infection. Omicron BA.1 convalescents who had received inactivated vaccines showed significantly increased plasma neutralizing antibody titers against Omicron BA.1, Beta, and wildtype SARS-CoV-2 compared with vaccinated healthy individuals. FundingThis research is supported by Changping Laboratory (CPL-1233) and the Emergency Key Program of Guangzhou Laboratory (EKPG21-30-3), sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Peoples Republic of China. Research in contextO_ST_ABSEvidence before this studyC_ST_ABSPrevious studies (many of which have not been peer-reviewed) have reported inconsistent findings regarding the effect of inactivated vaccines against the Omicron variant. On Mar 6, 2022, we searched PubMed with the query "(SARS-CoV-2) AND ((Neutralisation) OR (Neutralisation)) AND ((Omicron) OR (BA.1)) AND (inactivated vaccine)", without date or language restrictions. This search identified 18 articles, of which 13 were directly relevant. Notably, the participants in many of these studies have received only one or two doses of inactivated vaccine with heterologous booster vaccination; other studies have a limited number of participants receiving inactivated vaccines. Added value of this studyTo date, this is the first study to report on the protective effect of inactivated vaccines against the severe disease caused by the Omicron variant. We examine and compare the disease profile of adults and children. Furthermore, we estimate the effect of post-vaccination omicron infection on plasma neutralization titers against Omicron and other SARS-COV-2 variants. Specifically, the disease profile of Omicron convalescents who had received two-dose primary series of inactivated vaccines with or without a booster dose prior to infection is compared with unvaccinated patients. We also analyzed the effect of infection on neutralizing activity by comparing vaccinated convalescents with vaccinated healthy individuals with matched vaccination profiles. Implications of all the available evidenceCompared with adults, child patients infected with Omicron tend to present with less severe disease and are less likely to turn re-positive on nucleic acid tests. Receipt of two-dose primary series or three doses of inactivated vaccine is a protective factor against severe disease, ICU admission, re-positive PCR and longer hospitalization. The protection afforded by a booster dose is stronger than two-dose primary series alone. Besides vaccination, infection with Omicron is also a key factor for elevated neutralizing antibody titers, enabling cross-neutralization against Omicron, wildtype (WT) and the Beta variant.

3.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.03.09.434497

ABSTRACT

New SARS-CoV-2 variants continue to emerge from the current global pandemic, some of which can replicate faster and with greater transmissibility and pathogenicity. In particular, UK501Y.V1 identified in UK, SA501Y.V2 in South Africa, and BR501Y.V3 in Brazil are raising serious concerns as they spread quickly and contain spike protein mutations that may facilitate escape from current antibody therapies and vaccine protection. Here, we constructed a panel of 28 SARS CoV 2 pseudoviruses bearing single or combined mutations found in the spike protein of these three variants, as well as additional nine mutations that within or close by the major antigenic sites in the spike protein identified in the GISAID database. These pseudoviruses were tested against a panel of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), including some approved for emergency use to treat SARS CoV 2 infection, and convalescent patient plasma collected early in the pandemic. SA501Y.V2 pseudovirus was the most resistant, in magnitude and breadth, against mAbs and convalescent plasma, followed by BR501Y.V3, and then UK501Y.V1. This resistance hierarchy corresponds with Y144del and 242-244del mutations in the N-terminal domain as well as K417N/T, E484K and N501Y mutations in the receptor binding domain (RBD). Crystal structural analysis of RBD carrying triple K417N E484K N501Y mutations found in SA501Y.V2 bound with mAb P2C-1F11 revealed a molecular basis for antibody neutralization and escape. SA501Y.V2 and BR501Y.V3 also acquired substantial ability to use mouse and mink ACE2 for entry. Taken together, our results clearly demonstrate major antigenic shifts and potentially broadening the host range of SA501Y.V2 and BR501Y.V3, which pose serious challenges to our current antibody therapies and vaccine protection.

4.
ssrn; 2021.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-SSRN | ID: ppzbmed-10.2139.ssrn.3774153

ABSTRACT

Background: Safe and effective vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are urgently needed to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. As a promising inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, CoronaVac (developed by Sinovac Life Sciences, Beijing, China) is currently undergoing its clinical trials in several countries and showing good results. We investigated the immune mechanisms underlying CoronaVac from the perspective of single-cell gene expressions and immune function features.Methods: In this controlled study, 13 healthy participants aged 21–54 years were recruited in the vaccination group and intramuscularly injected with two doses of CoronaVac (3 μg / 0·5 mL per dose, at Day00 and Day28, right after blood sampling), with peripheral blood samples collected at Day00, Day14, Day28, Day35, and Day45 to monitor dynamic changes. As positive control, 12 participants aged 28–75 years that had recovered from COVID-19 for approximately eight months were recruited in the recovery group with peripheral blood samples collected. Considering the high cost of sequencing, 11 samples from two healthy participants (H1 and H2) with four timepoints (Day00, Day14, Day28, and Day35) and three recovered participants (R1, R2, and R3) with one timepoint (Month8) were randomly chosen for single-cell RNA sequencing of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). The transcriptomics of PBMC and its constituent cells were analyzed as gene expression responses. For samples from all 25 participants, the serum neutralizing antibody titer to live SARS-CoV-2 and the in vitro cytokine release activity of CD4+T cells were assayed as immune function responses.Findings: Single-cell RNA sequencing showed that the PBMC transcriptomics after vaccination resembled the COVID-19 recovery control more than that before vaccination, which also applied to its constituent cells such as B cells, T cells, NK cells, and myeloid cells. Gradual transitions of PBMC transcriptomics were observed from Day14 to Day28 and Day35 in vaccination groups, which finally approached the recovery control. The B cell levels in PBMC increased after each vaccination, while the T cell levels mainly increased within four weeks after the first vaccination and peaked at Day28. The serum neutralizing antibody titer to live SARS-CoV-2 was low within four weeks after the first vaccination, but the second vaccination could induce significantly higher serum neutralizing antibody titers due to the immune memory. For both vaccinated participants and recovered participants, the upregulated JUN/FOS network and tuned expressions of immunoglobulin fragments such as IGHV3-30 and IGLV2-23 were observed in B cells. By purifying CD4+T cells from PBMC and re-stimulating them with CoronaVac in vitro, five cytokines were significantly released, including Th1 cytokines (IFN-γ and IL-2) and Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10). Th1 cytokines were mainly activated at Day14, Day28, and Day35, supporting cellular immune responses at early stages when the serum neutralizing antibody titer was low. Th2 cytokines were mainly activated at Day28, Day35, and Day45, supporting humoral immune responses at later stages, especially after the second vaccination.Interpretation: Two vaccinations of CoronaVac (3 µg per dose, with an interval of 28 days) could make positive gene expression and immune responses in healthy participants, as revealed by single-cell PBMC transcriptomics and immune function assays.Funding Statement: China’s National Science and Technology Major Projects for Major New Drugs Innovation and Development.Declaration of Interests: QG, YH, XM, and SZ are employees of Sinovac Life Sciences, Beijing, China. The other authors declare no competing interests.Ethics Approval Statement: This study was approved by the Peking University Biomedical Ethics Committee.

5.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.10.29.360479

ABSTRACT

Dysfunctional immune response in the COVID-19 patients is a recurrent theme impacting symptoms and mortality, yet the detailed understanding of pertinent immune cells is not complete. We applied single-cell RNA sequencing to 284 samples from 205 COVID-19 patients and controls to create a comprehensive immune landscape. Lymphopenia and active T and B cell responses were found to coexist and associated with age, sex and their interactions with COVID-19. Diverse epithelial and immune cell types were observed to be virus-positive and showed dramatic transcriptomic changes. Elevation of ANXA1 and S100A9 in virus-positive squamous epithelial cells may enable the initiation of neutrophil and macrophage responses via the ANXA1-FPR1 and S100A8/9-TLR4 axes. Systemic up-regulation of S100A8/A9, mainly by megakaryocytes and monocytes in the peripheral blood, may contribute to the cytokine storms frequently observed in severe patients. Our data provide a rich resource for understanding the pathogenesis and designing effective therapeutic strategies for COVID-19.

6.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.10.29.361261

ABSTRACT

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a surge of crowd-sourced initiatives aimed at simulating the proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A bottleneck currently exists in translating these simulations into tangible predictions that can be leveraged for pharmacological studies. Here we report on extensive electrostatic calculations done on an exascale simulation of the opening of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, performed by the Folding@home initiative. We compute the electric potential as the solution of the non-linear Poisson-Boltzmann equation using a parallel sharp numerical solver. The inherent multiple length scales present in the geometry and solution are reproduced using highly adaptive Octree grids. We analyze our results focusing on the electro-geometric properties of the receptor-binding domain and its vicinity. This work paves the way for a new class of hybrid computational and data-enabled approaches, where molecular dynamics simulations are combined with continuum modeling to produce high-fidelity computational measurements serving as a basis for protein bio-mechanism investigations.

7.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.10.25.20218990

ABSTRACT

To discover new drugs to combat COVID-19, an understanding of the molecular basis of SARS-CoV-2 infection is urgently needed. Here, for the first time, we report the crucial role of cathepsin L (CTSL) in patients with COVID-19. The circulating level of CTSL was elevated after SARS-CoV-2 infection and was positively correlated with disease course and severity. Correspondingly, SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus infection increased CTSL expression in human cells in vitro and human ACE2 transgenic mice in vivo, while CTSL overexpression, in turn, enhanced pseudovirus infection in human cells. CTSL functionally cleaved the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and enhanced virus entry, as evidenced by CTSL overexpression and knockdown in vitro and application of CTSL inhibitor drugs in vivo. Furthermore, amantadine, a licensed anti-influenza drug, significantly inhibited CTSL activity after SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus infection and prevented infection both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, CTSL is a promising target for new anti-COVID-19 drug development.

8.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.04.15.20065623

ABSTRACT

Background. COVID-19 is a pandemic with no specific antiviral treatments or vaccines. The urgent needs for exploring the neutralizing antibodies from patients with different clinical characteristics are emerging. Methods. A total of 117 blood samples were collected from 70 COVID-19 inpatients and convalescent patients. The presence of neutralizing antibody was determined with a modified cytopathogenic assay based on live SARS-CoV-2. The dynamics of neutralizing antibody levels at different with different clinical characteristics were analyzed. Results. The seropositivity rate reached up to 100.0% within 20 days since onset, and remained 100.0% till day 41-53. The total GMT was 1:163.7 (95% CI, 128.5 to 208.6), and the antibody level was highest during day 31-40 since onset, and then decreased slightly. Individual differences in changes of antibody levels were observed among 8 representative convalescent patients. In multivariate GEE analysis, patients at age of 31-60 and 61-84 had a higher antibody level than those at age of 16-30 ({beta}=1.0518, P=0.0152; {beta}=1.3718, P=0.0020). Patients with a worse clinical classification had a higher antibody titer ({beta}=0.4639, P=0.0227). Conclusions. The neutralizing antibodies were detected even at the early stage of disease, and a significant response showed in convalescent patients. Moreover, changes on antibody levels ware individual specific.

9.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.03.26.20042184

ABSTRACT

WHO has declared COVID-19 a pandemic with more than 300,000 confirmed cases and more than 14,000 deaths. There is urgent need for accurate and rapid diagnostic kits. Here we report the development and validation of a COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 S1 serology ELISA kit for the detection of total anti-virus antibody (IgG+IgM) titers in sera from either the general population or patients suspected to be infected. For indirect ELISA, CHO-expressed recombinant full length SARS-CoV-2-S1 protein with 6*His tag was used as the coating antigen to capture the SARS-CoV-2-S1 antibodies specifically. The specificity of the ELISA kit was determined to be 97.5%, as examined against total 412 normal human sera including 257 samples collected prior to the outbreak and 155 collected during the outbreak. The sensitivity of the ELISA kit was determined to be 97.5% by testing against 69 samples from hospitalized and/or recovered COVID-19 patients. The overall accuracy rate reached 97.3%. Most importantly, in one case study, the ELISA test kit was able to identify an infected person who had previously been quarantined for 14 days after coming into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, and discharged after testing negative twice by nucleic acid test. With the assays developed here, we can screen millions of medical staffs in the hospitals and people in residential complex, schools, public transportations, and business parks in the epidemic centers of the outbreaks to fish out the "innocent viral spreaders", and help to stop the further spreading of the virus.

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