SciCombinator

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Journal: NPJ vaccines

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Current design of Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccine mainly considered envelope (E) as the major target antigen. Non-structural protein NS1 was seldom considered. Herein, we generated three adenovirus-vectored vaccines carrying E (Ad2-E), or premembrane/membrane (prM/M) with E (Ad2-prME), or NS1 in addition to prM/M with E (Ad2-prME-NS1). Ad2-prME induced higher neutralizing antibody response to ZIKV than Ad2-E, suggesting prM/M is important for the folding of immunogenic E. Most intriguingly, Ad2-prME-NS1 elicited the best viral inhibition when the immune sera were added to ZIKV-infected cells. In ZIKV-challenged neonatal mice born to maternally immunized dams, Ad2-prME-NS1 conferred the best protection in preventing weight loss, neurological disorders, and viral replication. Ad2-prME also conferred significant protection but was less effective than Ad2-prME-NS1, whereas Ad2-E only alleviated neurological symptoms but did not inhibit viral replication. Our study suggested that NS1 should be considered in the design of ZIKV vaccine in addition to prM/M and E.

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Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) is a leading asexual blood-stage vaccine candidate for malaria. In preparation for clinical trials, a full-length PfRH5 protein vaccine called “RH5.1” was produced as a soluble product under cGMP using the ExpreS2 platform (based on a Drosophila melanogaster S2 stable cell line system). Following development of a high-producing monoclonal S2 cell line, a master cell bank was produced prior to the cGMP campaign. Culture supernatants were processed using C-tag affinity chromatography followed by size exclusion chromatography and virus-reduction filtration. The overall process yielded >400 mg highly pure RH5.1 protein. QC testing showed the MCB and the RH5.1 product met all specified acceptance criteria including those for sterility, purity, and identity. The RH5.1 vaccine product was stored at -80 °C and is stable for over 18 months. Characterization of the protein following formulation in the adjuvant system AS01B showed that RH5.1 is stable in the timeframe needed for clinical vaccine administration, and that there was no discernible impact on the liposomal formulation of AS01B following addition of RH5.1. Subsequent immunization of mice confirmed the RH5.1/AS01B vaccine was immunogenic and could induce functional growth inhibitory antibodies against blood-stage P. falciparum in vitro. The RH5.1/AS01B was judged suitable for use in humans and has since progressed to phase I/IIa clinical trial. Our data support the future use of the Drosophila S2 cell and C-tag platform technologies to enable cGMP-compliant biomanufacture of other novel and “difficult-to-express” recombinant protein-based vaccines.

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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.

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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%.

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Vaccines are complex biomedicines. Manufacturing is time consuming and requires a high level of quality control (QC) to guarantee consistent safety and potency. An increasing global demand has led to the need to reduce time and cost of manufacturing. The evolving concepts for QC and the upcoming threat of falsification of biomedicines define a new need for methods that allow the fast and reliable identification of vaccines. Raman spectroscopy is a non-destructive technology already established in QC of classical medicines. We hypothesized that Raman spectroscopy could be used for identification and differentiation of vaccine products. Raman maps obtained from air-dried samples of combination vaccines containing antigens from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (DTaP vaccines) were summarized to compile product-specific Raman signatures. Sources of technical variance were emphasized to evaluate the robustness and sensitivity in downstream data analysis. The data management approach corrects for spatial inhomogeneities in the dried sample while offering a proper representation of the original samples inherent chemical signature. Reproducibility of the identification was validated by a leave-one-replicate-out cross-validation. The results highlighted the high specificity and sensitivity of Raman measurements in identifying DTaP vaccine products. The results pave the way for further exploitation of the Raman technology for identification of vaccines in batch release and cases of suspected falsification.

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Unlike drug dose optimisation, mathematical modelling has not been applied to vaccine dose finding. We applied a novel Immunostimulation/Immunodynamic mathematical modelling framework to translate multi-dose TB vaccine immune responses from mice, to predict most immunogenic dose in humans. Data were previously collected on IFN-γ secreting CD4+ T cells over time for novel TB vaccines H56 and H1 adjuvanted with IC31 in mice (1 dose groups (0.1-1.5 and 15 μg H56 + IC31), 45 mice) and humans (1 dose (50 μg H56/H1 + IC31), 18 humans). A two-compartment mathematical model, describing the dynamics of the post-vaccination IFN-γ T cell response, was fitted to mouse and human data, separately, using nonlinear mixed effects methods. We used these fitted models and a vaccine dose allometric scaling assumption, to predict the most immunogenic human dose. Based on the changes in model parameters by mouse H56 + IC31 dose and by varying the H56 dose allometric scaling factor between mouse and humans, we established that, at a late time point (224 days) doses of 0.8-8 μg H56 + IC31 in humans may be the most immunogenic. A 0.8-8 μg of H-series TB vaccines in humans, may be as, or more, immunogenic, as larger doses. The Immunostimulation/Immunodynamic mathematical modelling framework is a novel, and potentially revolutionary tool, to predict most immunogenic vaccine doses, and accelerate vaccine development.

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Annual seasonal influenza vaccination is recommended for high-risk populations and often occupational groups such as healthcare workers (HCWs). Repeated annual vaccination has been reported to either have no impact or reduce antibody responses or protection. However, whether repeated vaccination influences T-cell responses has not been sufficiently studied, despite the increasing evidence of the protective roles of T-cell immunity. Here, we explored the impact of repeated annual vaccination with the same vaccine strain (H1N1pdm09) over multiple seasons in the post-2009 pandemic era and showed that repeated vaccination increased both T-cell and humoral responses. Using the T-cell FluroSpot and intracellular cytokine-staining, the hemagglutination inhibition (HI), and the memory B-cell (MBC) ELISpot assays, we investigated pre- and postvaccination T cells, antibodies, and MBCs in a cohort of HCWs repeatedly vaccinated with H1N1pdm09 for 5 years (pandemic vaccination in 2009 and subsequently annual seasonal vaccination containing H1N1pdm09 during 2010-2013). We found that the prevaccination H1N1pdm09-specific T cells, antibodies, and MBCs were significantly increased after 3-4 repeated vaccinations and maintained at high levels throughout seasons 2012 and 2013. The cross-reactive IFN-γ-secreting CD4+ cells recognizing conserved viral external or internal epitopes were also maintained throughout 2012 and 2013. Repeated vaccination improved the multifunctional memory CD4+ responses. Particularly, the IFN-γ+TNF-α+CD4+ T cells were boosted following each vaccination. HI antibodies were significantly induced after each vaccination over 5 years. Our findings indicate a broad impact of repeated annual vaccination, even with the same vaccine component, on the influenza-specific T-cell and humoral immunity and support the continuing recommendation of annual influenza vaccination. Despite the widespread implementation of annual influenza vaccination, the effect of repeated vaccinations on the immune response in subsequent seasons is poorly understood. A team led by Rebecca Jane Cox at the University of Bergen examined the humoral and T-cell response elicited by 2009’s H1N1pdm09 seasonal vaccine. Since the H1N1pdm09 strain continued to circulate in subsequent years it was included in later vaccine formulations and the authors could therefore examine the effects of repeated annual vaccination over multiple seasons. They observed that H1N1pdm09-specific polyfunctional T-cell responses and antibodies were enhanced by multiple annual vaccinations. In particular, T cells showed progressive skewing to IFN-γ+TNF+ double producers, but the magnitude of the T-cell response tended to plateau after 3-4 repeated vaccinations. The findings suggest that including the same component in subsequent annual vaccines can significantly impact the influenza immune response.

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Over 50 million women are exposed to the risk of malaria during pregnancy every year. Malaria during pregnancy is a leading global cause of maternal morbidity and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Adhesion of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to placental chondroitin-4-sulfate (CSA) has been linked to the severe disease outcome of placental malaria. Accumulated evidence strongly supports VAR2CSA as the leading placental malaria vaccine candidate. Recombinant proteins encompassing the VAR2CSA high affinity CSA binding site have been generated, and their activity as immunogens that elicit functional (inhibitory) and cross-reactive antibodies against CSA-binding parasites assessed. The expression of His-tagged proteins was compared in four different expression systems and their capacity to bind specifically to CSA was analyzed. CHO cells and E. coli SHuffle cells were the two expression systems able to express some of the recombinant proteins in reasonable amounts. Larger analytical scale production of DBL1x-2× (3D7) and DBL3x-4ε (FCR3) best expressed in CHO and E. coli SHuffle cells were performed. Purified proteins were administered to rats either alone or adjuvanted with human approved adjuvants. Analysis of the functionality and cross-reactivity of the induced antibodies allowed us to down-select the DBL1x-2(3D7) expressed in E. coli SHuffle cells as the best antigen to be transitioned to further clinical development in order to protect future pregnant women living in malaria endemic areas against the severe clinical outcomes of placental malaria.

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The oil-in-water emulsion Adjuvant System 03 (AS03) is one of the few adjuvants used in licensed vaccines. Previous work indicates that AS03 induces a local and transient inflammatory response that contributes to its adjuvant effect. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in its immunostimulatory properties are ill-defined. Upon intramuscular injection in mice, AS03 elicited a rapid and transient downregulation of lipid metabolism-related genes in the draining lymph node. In vitro, these modifications were associated with profound changes in lipid composition, alteration of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) morphology and activation of the unfolded protein response pathway. In vivo, treatment with a chemical chaperone or deletion of the ER stress sensor kinase IRE1α in myeloid cells decreased AS03-induced cytokine production and its capacity to elicit high affinity antigen-specific antibodies. In summary, our results indicate that IRE1α is a sensor for the metabolic changes induced by AS03 in monocytic cells and may constitute a canonical pathway that could be exploited for the design of novel vaccine adjuvants.

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With increasing age, as the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing, finding a therapeutic intervention is becoming critically important to either prevent or slow down the progression of the disease. Passive immunotherapy has been demonstrated as a successful way of reducing large aggregates and improving cognition in animal models of both tauopathies and Alzheimer’s disease. However, with all the continuous attempts and significant success of immunotherapy in preclinical studies, finding a successful clinical therapy has been a great challenge, possibly indicating a lack of accuracy in targeting the toxic species. Both active and passive immunotherapy approaches in transgenic animals have been demonstrated to have pros and cons. Passive immunotherapy has been favored and many mechanisms have been shown to clear toxic amyloid and tau aggregates and improve memory. These mechanisms may differ depending on the antibodie’s' target and administration route. In this regard, deciding on affinity vs. specificity of the antibodies plays a significant role in terms of avoiding the clearance of the physiological forms of the targeted proteins and reducing adverse side effects. In addition, knowing that a single protein can exist in different conformational states, termed as strains, with varying degrees of neurotoxicity and seeding properties, presents an additional level of complexity. Therefore, immunotherapy targeting specifically the toxic strains will aid in developing potential strategies for intervention. Moreover, an approach of combinatorial immunotherapies against different amyloidogenic proteins, at distinct levels of the disease progression, might offer an effective therapy in many neurodegenerative diseases.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Protein, Peptide, Neurology, Neurodegeneration, Neurodegenerative disorders, Beta amyloid, Tau protein