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1.
mSphere ; : e0050721, 2021 Jun 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1270880

ABSTRACT

Epidemiological studies have revealed the emergence of multiple severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern (VOC), including the lineage B.1.1.7 that is rapidly replacing old variants. The B.1.1.7 variant has been linked to increased morbidity rates, transmissibility, and potentially mortality. To assess viral fitness in vivo and to address whether the B.1.1.7 variant is capable of immune escape, we conducted infection and reinfection studies in naive and convalescent Syrian hamsters (>10 months old). Nasal wash samples from hamsters infected by a B.1.1.7 variant exhibited slightly higher viral RNA levels but lower infectious titers than those from B.1 (G614) variant-infected hamsters, and the two variants induced comparable lung pathologies in hamsters. Despite a sporadic and transient low-level infection in the nasal cavity, convalescent hamsters that had recovered from a previous USA-WA1 isolate (D614) infection displayed no observable clinical signs or lung pathology following B.1.1.7 rechallenge. Altogether, our study did not find that the B.1.1.7 variant significantly differs from the B.1 variant in pathogenicity in Syrian hamsters and that a heterologous natural infection-induced immunity confers protection against a secondary challenge by the B1.1.7 variant. IMPORTANCE The rapid emergence of several variants of concern of SARS-CoV-2 calls for evaluations of viral fitness and pathogenicity in animal models in order to understand the mechanism of enhanced transmission and the possible increases in morbidity and mortality rates. Here, we demonstrated that immunity naturally acquired through a prior infection with the first-wave variant does confer nearly complete protection against the B.1.1.7 variant in Syrian hamsters upon reexposure. Strikingly, although the B.1.1.7 variant appears to replicate to a higher level in the nose than the ancestral B.1 variant, it does not induce more severe lung pathology in hamsters.

2.
Microorganisms ; 9(5)2021 May 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1227045

ABSTRACT

The 2019 novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, first reported in December 2019, has infected over 102 million people around the world as of February 2021 and thus calls for rapid development of safe and effective interventions, namely vaccines. In our study, we evaluated a DNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in the Syrian hamster model. Hamsters were vaccinated with a DNA-plasmid encoding the SARS-CoV-2 full length spike open reading frame (ORF) to induce host cells to produce spike protein and protective immune responses before exposure to infectious virus. We tested this vaccine candidate by both intranasal (IN) and intramuscular (IM) routes of administration and complexing with and without an in vivo delivery reagent. Hamsters receiving prime-boost-boost IM-only vaccinations recovered body weight quicker, had decreased lung viral loads, and increased SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody titers compared to control vaccinated animals but, surprisingly, lung pathology was as severe as sham vaccinated controls. The IM/IN combination group showed no efficacy in reducing lung virus titers or pathology. With increasing public health need for rapid and effective interventions, our data demonstrate that in some vaccine contexts, significant antibody responses and decreased viral loads may not be sufficient to prevent lung pathology.

3.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 8761, 2021 04 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1199318

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge to global public health. Rapid development and deployment of safe and effective vaccines are imperative to control the pandemic. In the current study, we applied our adjuvanted stable prefusion SARS-CoV-2 spike (S-2P)-based vaccine, MVC-COV1901, to hamster models to demonstrate immunogenicity and protection from virus challenge. Golden Syrian hamsters immunized intramuscularly with two injections of 1 µg or 5 µg of S-2P adjuvanted with CpG 1018 and aluminum hydroxide (alum) were challenged intranasally with SARS-CoV-2. Prior to virus challenge, the vaccine induced high levels of neutralizing antibodies with 10,000-fold higher IgG level and an average of 50-fold higher pseudovirus neutralizing titers in either dose groups than vehicle or adjuvant control groups. Six days after infection, vaccinated hamsters did not display any weight loss associated with infection and had significantly reduced lung pathology and most importantly, lung viral load levels were reduced to lower than detection limit compared to unvaccinated animals. Vaccination with either 1 µg or 5 µg of adjuvanted S-2P produced comparable immunogenicity and protection from infection. This study builds upon our previous results to support the clinical development of MVC-COV1901 as a safe, highly immunogenic, and protective COVID-19 vaccine.


Subject(s)
Adjuvants, Immunologic/administration & dosage , Aluminum Hydroxide/administration & dosage , COVID-19/prevention & control , Oligodeoxyribonucleotides/administration & dosage , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Aluminum Hydroxide/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Cell Line , Cricetinae , Female , Humans , Immunization , Injections, Intramuscular , Oligodeoxyribonucleotides/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Viral Load/drug effects
4.
NPJ Vaccines ; 6(1): 61, 2021 Apr 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1193587

ABSTRACT

Emergency use authorization of COVID vaccines has brought hope to mitigate pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, there remains a need for additional effective vaccines to meet the global demand and address the potential new viral variants. mRNA technologies offer an expeditious path alternative to traditional vaccine approaches. Here we describe the efforts to utilize an mRNA platform for rational design and evaluations of mRNA vaccine candidates based on the spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. Several mRNA constructs of S-protein, including wild type, a pre-fusion stabilized mutant (2P), a furin cleavage-site mutant (GSAS) and a double mutant form (2P/GSAS), as well as others, were tested in animal models for their capacity to elicit neutralizing antibodies (nAbs). The lead 2P/GSAS candidate was further assessed in dose-ranging studies in mice and Cynomolgus macaques, and for efficacy in a Syrian golden hamster model. The selected 2P/GSAS vaccine formulation, designated MRT5500, elicited potent nAbs as measured in neutralization assays in all three preclinical models and more importantly, protected against SARS-CoV-2-induced weight loss and lung pathology in hamsters. In addition, MRT5500 elicited TH1-biased responses in both mouse and non-human primate (NHP), thus alleviating a hypothetical concern of potential vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory diseases known associated with TH2-biased responses. These data position MRT5500 as a viable vaccine candidate for entering clinical development.

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