• An aluminum hydroxide:CpG adjuvant enhances protection elicited by a SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain vaccine in aged mice.

      Nanishi, Etsuro; Borriello, Francesco; O'Meara, Timothy R; McGrath, Marisa E; Saito, Yoshine; Haupt, Robert E; Seo, Hyuk-Soo; van Haren, Simon D; Cavazzoni, Cecilia B; Brook, Byron; et al. (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2022-01-26)
      Global deployment of vaccines that can provide protection across several age groups is still urgently needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Although vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 based on mRNA and adenoviral vector technologies have been rapidly developed, additional practical and scalable SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are required to meet global demand. Protein subunit vaccines formulated with appropriate adjuvants represent an approach to address this urgent need. The receptor binding domain (RBD) is a key target of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies but is poorly immunogenic. We therefore compared pattern recognition receptor (PRR) agonists alone or formulated with aluminum hydroxide (AH) and benchmarked them against AS01B and AS03-like emulsion-based adjuvants for their potential to enhance RBD immunogenicity in young and aged mice. We found that an AH and CpG adjuvant formulation (AH:CpG) produced an 80-fold increase in anti-RBD neutralizing antibody titers in both age groups relative to AH alone and protected aged mice from the SARS-CoV-2 challenge. The AH:CpG-adjuvanted RBD vaccine elicited neutralizing antibodies against both wild-type SARS-CoV-2 and the B.1.351 (beta) variant at serum concentrations comparable to those induced by the licensed Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. AH:CpG induced similar cytokine and chemokine gene enrichment patterns in the draining lymph nodes of both young adult and aged mice and enhanced cytokine and chemokine production in human mononuclear cells of younger and older adults. These data support further development of AH:CpG-adjuvanted RBD as an affordable vaccine that may be effective across multiple age groups.
    • Intranasal administration of BReC-CoV-2 COVID-19 vaccine protects K18-hACE2 mice against lethal SARS-CoV-2 challenge.

      Wong, Ting Y; Lee, Katherine S; Russ, Brynnan P; Horspool, Alexander M; Kang, Jason; Winters, Michael T; Allison Wolf, M; Rader, Nathaniel A; Miller, Olivia A; Shiflett, Morgane; et al. (Springer Nature, 2022-03-14)
      SARS-CoV-2 is a viral respiratory pathogen responsible for the current global pandemic and the disease that causes COVID-19. All current WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines are administered through the muscular route. We have developed a prototype two-dose vaccine (BReC-CoV-2) by combining the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) antigen, via conjugation to Diphtheria toxoid (EcoCRM®). The vaccine is adjuvanted with Bacterial Enzymatic Combinatorial Chemistry (BECC), BECC470. Intranasal (IN) administration of BreC-CoV-2 in K18-hACE2 mice induced a strong systemic and localized immune response in the respiratory tissues which provided protection against the Washington strain of SARS-CoV-2. Protection provided after IN administration of BReC-CoV-2 was associated with decreased viral RNA copies in the lung, robust RBD IgA titers in the lung and nasal wash, and induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies in the serum. We also observed that BReC-CoV-2 vaccination administered using an intramuscular (IM) prime and IN boost protected mice from a lethal challenge dose of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. IN administration of BReC-CoV-2 provided better protection than IM only administration to mice against lethal challenge dose of SARS-CoV-2. These data suggest that the IN route of vaccination induces localized immune responses that can better protect against SARS-CoV-2 than the IM route in the upper respiratory tract.
    • mRNA booster vaccination protects aged mice against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant.

      Nanishi, Etsuro; McGrath, Marisa E; O'Meara, Timothy R; Barman, Soumik; Yu, Jingyou; Wan, Huahua; Dillen, Carly A; Menon, Manisha; Seo, Hyuk-Soo; Song, Kijun; et al. (Springer Nature, 2022-08-06)
      The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant evades vaccine-induced immunity. While a booster dose of ancestral mRNA vaccines effectively elicits neutralizing antibodies against variants, its efficacy against Omicron in older adults, who are at the greatest risk of severe disease, is not fully elucidated. Here, we evaluate multiple longitudinal immunization regimens of mRNA BNT162b2 to assess the effects of a booster dose provided >8 months after the primary immunization series across the murine lifespan, including in aged 21-month-old mice. Boosting dramatically enhances humoral and cell-mediated responses with evidence of Omicron cross-recognition. Furthermore, while younger mice are protected without a booster dose, boosting provides sterilizing immunity against Omicron-induced lung infection in aged 21-month-old mice. Correlational analyses reveal that neutralizing activity against Omicron is strongly associated with protection. Overall, our findings indicate age-dependent vaccine efficacy and demonstrate the potential benefit of mRNA booster immunization to protect vulnerable older populations against SARS-CoV-2 variants.