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Journal: NPJ vaccines


Mycobacterium are among the oldest co-evolutionary partners of humans. The attenuated Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG) strain has been administered globally for 100 years as a vaccine against tuberculosis. BCG also shows promise as treatment for numerous inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Here, we report on a randomized 8-year long prospective examination of type 1 diabetic subjects with long-term disease who received two doses of the BCG vaccine. After year 3, BCG lowered hemoglobin A1c to near normal levels for the next 5 years. The BCG impact on blood sugars appeared to be driven by a novel systemic and blood sugar lowering mechanism in diabetes. We observe a systemic shift in glucose metabolism from oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis, a state of high glucose utilization. Confirmation is gained by metabolomics, mRNAseq, and functional assays of cellular glucose uptake after BCG vaccinations. To prove BCG could induce a systemic change to promote accelerated glucose utilization and impact blood sugars, murine data demonstrated reduced blood sugars and aerobic induction in non-autoimmune mice made chemically diabetic. BCG via epigenetics also resets six central T-regulatory genes for genetic re-programming of tolerance. These findings set the stage for further testing of a known safe vaccine therapy for improved blood sugar control through changes in metabolism and durability with epigenetic changes even in advanced Type 1 diabetes.


Seasonal vaccines are currently the most effective countermeasure against influenza. However, seasonal vaccines are only effective against strains closely related to the influenza strains contained in the vaccine. Recently a new hemagglutinin (HA) stem-based antigen, the so-called “mini-HA”, has been shown to induce a cross-protective immune response in influenza-naive mice and non-human primates (NHP). However, prior exposure to influenza can have a profound effect on the immune response to subsequent influenza infection and the protective efficacy of vaccination. Here we show that mini-HA, compared to a trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV), elicits a broadened influenza-specific humoral immune response in NHP previously exposed to influenza. Serum transfer experiments showed that antibodies induced by both mini-HA and seasonal vaccine protected mice against lethal challenge with a H1N1 influenza strain heterologous to the H1 HA included in the TIV. However, antibodies elicited by mini-HA showed an additional benefit of protecting mice against lethal heterosubtypic H5N1 influenza challenge, associated with H5 HA-specific functional antibodies.


Amebiasis caused by Entamoeba histolytica is the third leading cause of parasitic mortality globally, with some 100,000 deaths annually, primarily among young children. Protective immunity to amebiasis is associated with fecal IgA and IFN-γ in humans; however, no vaccine exists. We have previously identified recombinant LecA as a potential protective vaccine antigen. Here we describe the development of a stable, manufacturable PEGylated liposomal adjuvant formulation containing two synthetic Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands: GLA (TLR4) and 3M-052 (TLR7/8). The liposomes stimulated production of monocyte/macrophage chemoattractants MCP-1 and Mip-1β, and Th1-associated cytokines IL-12p70 and IFN-γ from human whole blood dependent on TLR ligand composition and dose. The liposomes also demonstrated acceptable physicochemical compatibility with the recombinant LecA antigen. Whereas mice immunized with LecA and GLA-liposomes demonstrated enhanced antigen-specific fecal IgA titers, mice immunized with LecA and 3M-052-liposomes showed a stronger Th1 immune profile. Liposomes containing GLA and 3M-052 together elicited both LecA-specific fecal IgA and Th1 immune responses. Furthermore, the quality of the immune response could be modulated with modifications to the liposomal formulation based on PEG length. Compared to subcutaneous administration, the optimized liposome adjuvant composition with LecA antigen administered intranasally resulted in significantly enhanced fecal IgA, serum IgG2a, as well as systemic IFN-γ and IL-17A levels in mice. The optimized intranasal regimen provided greater than 80% protection from disease as measured by parasite antigen in the colon. This work demonstrates the physicochemical and immunological characterization of an optimized mucosal adjuvant system containing a combination of TLR ligands with complementary activities and illustrates the importance of adjuvant composition and route of delivery to enhance a multifaceted and protective immune response to amebiasis.


Aluminum-containing adjuvants have been used for over 90 years to enhance the immune response to vaccines. Recent work has significantly advanced our understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological properties of these adjuvants, offering key insights on underlying mechanisms. Given the long-term success of aluminum adjuvants, we believe that they should continue to represent the “gold standard” against which all new adjuvants should be compared. New vaccine candidates that require adjuvants to induce a protective immune responses should first be evaluated with aluminum adjuvants before other more experimental approaches are considered, since use of established adjuvants would facilitate both clinical development and the regulatory pathway. However, the continued use of aluminum adjuvants requires an appreciation of their complexities, in combination with access to the necessary expertise to optimize vaccine formulations. In this article, we will review the properties of aluminum adjuvants and highlight those elements that are critical to optimize vaccine performance. We will discuss how other components (excipients, TLR ligands, etc.) can affect the interaction between adjuvants and antigens, and impact the potency of vaccines. This review provides a resource and guide, which will ultimately contribute to the successful development of newer, more effective and safer vaccines.


Immune responses to inactivated vaccines against avian influenza are poor due in part to lack of immune memory. Adjuvants significantly increased virus neutralizing titers. We performed comprehensive analyses of polyclonal antibody responses following FDA-approved adjuvanted H5N1-A/Indonesia vaccine, administered in presence or absence of AS03. Using Whole Genome Fragment Phage Display Libraries, we observed that AS03 induced antibody epitope diversity to viral hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase compared with unadjuvanted vaccine. Furthermore, AS03 promoted significant antibody affinity maturation to properly folded H5-HA1 (but not to HA2) domain, which correlated with neutralization titers against both vaccine and heterologous H5N1 strains. However, no increase in heterosubtypic cross-neutralization of Group1-H1N1 seasonal strains was observed. AS03-H5N1 vaccine also induced higher neuraminidase inhibition antibody titers. This study provides insight into the differential impacts of AS03 adjuvant on H5N1 vaccine-induced antibody responses that may help optimize vaccine platforms for future vaccines with improved protection against seasonal and pandemic influenza strains.


Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of infectious death worldwide. Development of improved TB vaccines that boost or replace BCG is a major global health goal. ID93 + GLA-SE is a fusion protein TB vaccine candidate combined with the Toll-like Receptor 4 agonist adjuvant, GLA-SE. We conducted a phase 1, randomized, double-blind, dose-escalation clinical trial to evaluate two dose levels of the ID93 antigen, administered intramuscularly alone or in combination with two dose levels of the GLA-SE adjuvant, in 60 BCG-naive, QuantiFERON-negative, healthy adults in the US ( identifier: NCT01599897). When administered as 3 injections, 28 days apart, all dose levels of ID93 alone and ID93 + GLA-SE demonstrated an acceptable safety profile. All regimens elicited vaccine-specific humoral and cellular responses. Compared with ID93 alone, vaccination with ID93 + GLA-SE elicited higher titers of ID93-specific antibodies, a preferential increase in IgG1 and IgG3 subclasses, and a multifaceted Fc-mediated effector function response. The addition of GLA-SE also enhanced the magnitude and polyfunctional cytokine profile of CD4+ T cells. The data demonstrate an acceptable safety profile and indicate that the GLA-SE adjuvant drives a functional humoral and T-helper 1 type cellular response.


Zika virus (ZIKV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus, was first identified in the 1940s in Uganda in Africa and emerged in the Americas in Brazil in May 2015. In the 30 months since ZIKV emerged as a major public health problem, spectacular progress has been made with vaccine development cumulating with the publication of three reports of phase 1 clinical trials in the 4th quarter of 2017. Clinical trials involving candidate DNA and purified inactivated virus vaccines showed all were safe and well-tolerated in the small number of volunteers and all induced neutralizing antibodies, although these varied by vaccine candidate and dosing regimen. These results suggest that a Zika vaccine can be developed and that phase 2 clinical trials are warranted. However, it is difficult to compare the results from the different phase 1 studies or with neutralizing antibodies induced by licensed flavivirus vaccines (Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, and yellow fever) as neutralizing antibody assays vary and, unfortunately, there are no standards for Zika virus neutralizing antibodies. In addition to clinical studies, substantial progress continues to be made in nonclinical development, particularly in terms of the ability of candidate vaccines to protect reproductive tissues, and the potential use of monoclonal antibodies for passive prophylaxis.


Sustained elimination of leprosy as a global health concern likely requires a vaccine. The current standard, BCG, confers only partial protection and precipitates paucibacillary (PB) disease in some instances. When injected into mice with the T helper 1 (Th1)-biasing adjuvant formulation Glucopyranosyl Lipid Adjuvant in stable emulsion (GLA-SE), a cocktail of three prioritized antigens (ML2055, ML2380 and ML2028) reducedM. lepraeinfection levels. Recognition and protective efficacy of a single chimeric fusion protein incorporating these antigens, LEP-F1, was confirmed in similar experiments. The impact of post-exposure immunization was then assessed in nine-banded armadillos that demonstrate a functional recapitulation of leprosy. Armadillos were infected withM. leprae1 month before the initiation of post-exposure prophylaxis. While BCG precipitated motor nerve conduction abnormalities more rapidly and severely than observed for control infected armadillos, motor nerve injury in armadillos treated three times, at monthly intervals with LepVax was appreciably delayed. Biopsy of cutaneous nerves indicated that epidermal nerve fiber density was not significantly altered inM. leprae-infected animals although Remak Schwann cells of the cutaneous nerves in the distal leg were denser in the infected armadillos. Importantly, LepVax immunization did not exacerbate cutaneous nerve involvement due toM. lepraeinfection, indicating its safe use. There was no intraneural inflammation but a reduction of intra axonal edema suggested that LepVax treatment might restore some early sensory axonal function. These data indicate that post-exposure prophylaxis with LepVax not only appears safe but, unlike BCG, alleviates and delays the neurologic disruptions caused byM. lepraeinfection.

Concepts: Immune system, Nervous system, Neuroanatomy, Action potential


The VaxArray Influenza Pandemic HA (VXI-pHA) potency assay is a multiplexed sandwich immunoassay that consists of nine broadly reactive yet subtype-specific monoclonal capture antibodies printed in microarray format and a suite of fluor-labeled secondary antibodies that were selected to probe conserved HA epitopes. VXI-pHA was designed to optimize the probability that the ready-to-use assay would work for the most concerning, emergent influenza A strains, eliminating the need for the time-consuming process of reference reagents production. The performance of this new potency test was evaluated using a panel of 48 potentially pandemic strains of influenza viruses and vaccines spanning 16 years of antigenic drift, including the most recent pre-pandemic vaccine being developed against the “5th wave” A/H7N9 virus. The VXI-pHA assay demonstrated coverage of 93%, 92%, and 100% for H5, H7, and H9 antigens, respectively. The assay demonstrated high sensitivity with linear dynamic ranges of more than 150-fold and quantification limits ranging from 1 to 5 ng/mL. For three production lots of H7N9 monobulk drug substance, the assay exhibited excellent accuracy (100 ± 6%) and analytical precision (CV 6 ± 2%). The high assay sensitivity enabled robust detection and quantification of hemagglutinin in crude in-process samples and low-dose, adjuvanted vaccines with an accuracy of 100 ± 10%.


The recent Ebola virus outbreak has highlighted the therapeutic potential of antisera and renewed interest in this treatment approach. While human convalescent sera may not be readily available in the early stages of an outbreak, antisera of animal origin can be produced in a short time frame. Here, we compared adjuvanted virus-like particles (VLP) with recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), both expressing the Ebola virus antigens. The neutralizing antibody titers of rabbits immunized with adjuvanted VLPs were similar to those immunized with the replication-competent VSV, indicating that presentation of the antigen in its native conformation rather than de novo antigen expression is essential for production of functional antibodies. This approach also yielded high-titer antisera against Nipah virus glycoproteins, illustrating that it is transferable to other virus families. Multiple-step immunoglobulin G purification using a two-step 20-40% ammonium sulfate precipitation followed by protein A affinity chromatography resulted in 90% recovery of functionality and sustained in vivo stability. Adjuvanted VLP-based immunization strategies are thus a promising approach for the rapid generation of therapeutic antisera against emerging infections.