Publications by authors named "Aiquan Chang"

10 Publications

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A modular protein subunit vaccine candidate produced in yeast confers protection against SARS-CoV-2 in non-human primates.

bioRxiv 2021 Jul 14. Epub 2021 Jul 14.

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have been distributed at massive scale in developed countries, and have been effective at preventing COVID-19. Access to vaccines is limited, however, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) due to insufficient supply, high costs, and cold storage requirements. New vaccines that can be produced in existing manufacturing facilities in LMICs, can be manufactured at low cost, and use widely available, proven, safe adjuvants like alum, would improve global immunity against SARS-CoV-2. One such protein subunit vaccine is produced by the Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd. and is currently in clinical testing. Two protein components, the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) and hepatitis B surface antigen virus-like particles (VLPs), are each produced in yeast, which would enable a low-cost, high-volume manufacturing process. Here, we describe the design and preclinical testing of the RBD-VLP vaccine in cynomolgus macaques. We observed titers of neutralizing antibodies (>10 ) above the range of protection for other licensed vaccines in non-human primates. Interestingly, addition of a second adjuvant (CpG1018) appeared to improve the cellular response while reducing the humoral response. We challenged animals with SARS-CoV-2, and observed a ~3.4 and ~2.9 log reduction in median viral loads in bronchoalveolar lavage and nasal mucosa, respectively, compared to sham controls. These results inform the design and formulation of current clinical COVID-19 vaccine candidates like the one described here, and future designs of RBD-based vaccines against variants of SARS-CoV-2 or other betacoronaviruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.13.452251DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8288147PMC
July 2021

Durable Humoral and Cellular Immune Responses Following Ad26.COV2.S Vaccination for COVID-19.

medRxiv 2021 Jul 7. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Interim immunogenicity and efficacy data for the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine for COVID-19 have recently been reported . We describe here the 8-month durability of humoral and cellular immune responses in 20 individuals who received one or two doses of 5Ã-10 vp or 10 vp Ad26.COV2.S and in 5 participants who received placebo . We evaluated antibody and T cell responses on day 239, which was 8 months after the single-shot vaccine regimen (N=10) or 6 months after the two-shot vaccine regimen (N=10), although the present study was not powered to compare these regimens . We also report neutralizing antibody responses against the parental SARS-CoV-2 WA1/2020 strain as well as against the SARS-CoV-2 variants D614G, B.1.1.7 (alpha), B.1.617.1 (kappa), B.1.617.2 (delta), P.1 (gamma), B.1.429 (epsilon), and B.1.351 (beta).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.05.21259918DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8282116PMC
July 2021

Protective efficacy of Ad26.COV2.S against SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 in macaques.

Nature 2021 Jun 23. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Bioqual, Rockville, MD, USA.

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants that partially evade neutralizing antibodies poses a threat to the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines. The Ad26.COV2.S vaccine expresses a stabilized spike protein from the WA1/2020 strain of SARS-CoV-2, and has recently demonstrated protective efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 in humans in several geographical regions-including in South Africa, where 95% of sequenced viruses in cases of COVID-19 were the B.1.351 variant. Here we show that Ad26.COV2.S elicits humoral and cellular immune responses that cross-react with the B.1.351 variant and protects against B.1.351 challenge in rhesus macaques. Ad26.COV2.S induced lower binding and neutralizing antibodies against B.1.351 as compared to WA1/2020, but elicited comparable CD8 and CD4 T cell responses against the WA1/2020, B.1.351, B.1.1.7, P.1 and CAL.20C variants. B.1.351 infection of control rhesus macaques resulted in higher levels of virus replication in bronchoalveolar lavage and nasal swabs than did WA1/2020 infection. Ad26.COV2.S provided robust protection against both WA1/2020 and B.1.351, although we observed higher levels of virus in vaccinated macaques after B.1.351 challenge. These data demonstrate that Ad26.COV2.S provided robust protection against B.1.351 challenge in rhesus macaques. Our findings have important implications for vaccine control of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03732-8DOI Listing
June 2021

Protective efficacy of rhesus adenovirus COVID-19 vaccines against mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2.

bioRxiv 2021 Jun 15. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has sparked intense interest in the rapid development of vaccines as well as animal models to evaluate vaccine candidates and to define immune correlates of protection. We recently reported a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 virus strain (MA10) with the potential to infect wild-type laboratory mice, driving high levels of viral replication in respiratory tract tissues as well as severe clinical and respiratory symptoms, aspects of COVID-19 disease in humans that are important to capture in model systems. We evaluated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of novel rhesus adenovirus serotype 52 (RhAd52) vaccines against MA10 challenge in mice. Baseline seroprevalence is lower for rhesus adenovirus vectors than for human or chimpanzee adenovirus vectors, making these vectors attractive candidates for vaccine development. We observed that RhAd52 vaccines elicited robust binding and neutralizing antibody titers, which inversely correlated with viral replication after challenge. These data support the development of RhAd52 vaccines and the use of the MA10 challenge virus to screen novel vaccine candidates and to study the immunologic mechanisms that underscore protection from SARS-CoV-2 challenge in wild-type mice.

Importance: We have developed a series of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines using rhesus adenovirus serotype 52 (RhAd52) vectors, which exhibits a lower seroprevalence than human and chimpanzee vectors, supporting their development as novel vaccine vectors or as an alternative Ad vector for boosting. We sought to test these vaccines using a recently reported mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 (MA10) virus to i) evaluate the protective efficacy of RhAd52 vaccines and ii) further characterize this mouse-adapted challenge model and probe immune correlates of protection. We demonstrate RhAd52 vaccines elicit robust SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody responses and protect against clinical disease and viral replication in the lungs. Further, binding and neutralizing antibody titers correlated with protective efficacy. These data validate the MA10 mouse model as a useful tool to screen and study novel vaccine candidates, as well as the development of RhAd52 vaccines for COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.14.448461DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8219099PMC
June 2021

Immunogenicity of Ad26.COV2.S vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 variants in humans.

Nature 2021 Jun 9. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

Janssen Vaccines & Prevention, Leiden, The Netherlands.

The Ad26.COV2.S vaccine has demonstrated clinical efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19, including against the B.1.351 variant that is partially resistant to neutralizing antibodies. However, the immunogenicity of this vaccine in humans against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern remains unclear. Here we report humoral and cellular immune responses from 20 Ad26.COV2.S vaccinated individuals from the COV1001 phase I-IIa clinical trial against the original SARS-CoV-2 strain WA1/2020 as well as against the B.1.1.7, CAL.20C, P.1 and B.1.351 variants of concern. Ad26.COV2.S induced median pseudovirus neutralizing antibody titres that were 5.0-fold and 3.3-fold lower against the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, respectively, as compared with WA1/2020 on day 71 after vaccination. Median binding antibody titres were 2.9-fold and 2.7-fold lower against the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, respectively, as compared with WA1/2020. Antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis, complement deposition and natural killer cell activation responses were largely preserved against the B.1.351 variant. CD8 and CD4 T cell responses, including central and effector memory responses, were comparable among the WA1/2020, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1 and CAL.20C variants. These data show that neutralizing antibody responses induced by Ad26.COV2.S were reduced against the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, but functional non-neutralizing antibody responses and T cell responses were largely preserved against SARS-CoV-2 variants. These findings have implications for vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03681-2DOI Listing
June 2021

Alum:CpG adjuvant enables SARS-CoV-2 RBD-induced protection in aged mice and synergistic activation of human elder type 1 immunity.

bioRxiv 2021 May 21. Epub 2021 May 21.

Global deployment of vaccines that can provide protection across several age groups is still urgently needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic especially for low- and middle-income countries. While 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 needed to meet global demand. In this context, protein subunit vaccines formulated with appropriate adjuvants represent a promising approach to address this urgent need. Receptor-binding domain (RBD) is a key target of neutralizing antibodies (Abs) but is poorly immunogenic. We therefore compared pattern recognition receptor (PRR) agonists, including those activating STING, TLR3, TLR4 and TLR9, alone or formulated with aluminum hydroxide (AH), and benchmarked them to AS01B and AS03-like emulsion-based adjuvants for their potential to enhance RBD immunogenicity in young and aged mice. We found that the AH and CpG adjuvant formulation (AH:CpG) demonstrated the highest enhancement of anti-RBD neutralizing Ab titers in both age groups (∼80-fold over AH), and protected aged mice from the SARS-CoV-2 challenge. Notably, AH:CpG-adjuvanted RBD vaccine elicited neutralizing Abs against both wild-type SARS-CoV-2 and B.1.351 variant at serum concentrations comparable to those induced by the authorized mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine. AH:CpG induced similar cytokine and chemokine gene enrichment patterns in the draining lymph nodes of both young adult and aged mice and synergistically enhanced cytokine and chemokine production in human young adult and elderly mononuclear cells. These data support further development of AH:CpG-adjuvanted RBD as an affordable vaccine that may be effective across multiple age groups.

One Sentence Summary: Alum and CpG enhance SARS-CoV-2 RBD protective immunity, variant neutralization in aged mice and Th1-polarizing cytokine production by human elder leukocytes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.20.444848DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8142652PMC
May 2021

Immunogenicity of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines in Pregnant and Lactating Women.

JAMA 2021 06;325(23):2370-2380

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Importance: Pregnant women are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 but have been excluded from the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials. Data on vaccine safety and immunogenicity in these populations are therefore limited.

Objective: To evaluate the immunogenicity of COVID-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines in pregnant and lactating women, including against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.

Design, Setting, And Participants: An exploratory, descriptive, prospective cohort study enrolled 103 women who received a COVID-19 vaccine from December 2020 through March 2021 and 28 women who had confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection from April 2020 through March 2021 (the last follow-up date was March 26, 2021). This study enrolled 30 pregnant, 16 lactating, and 57 neither pregnant nor lactating women who received either the mRNA-1273 (Moderna) or BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) COVID-19 vaccines and 22 pregnant and 6 nonpregnant unvaccinated women with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Main Outcomes And Measures: SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain binding, neutralizing, and functional nonneutralizing antibody responses from pregnant, lactating, and nonpregnant women were assessed following vaccination. Spike-specific T-cell responses were evaluated using IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunospot and multiparameter intracellular cytokine-staining assays. Humoral and cellular immune responses were determined against the original SARS-CoV-2 USA-WA1/2020 strain as well as against the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants.

Results: This study enrolled 103 women aged 18 to 45 years (66% non-Hispanic White) who received a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. After the second vaccine dose, fever was reported in 4 pregnant women (14%; SD, 6%), 7 lactating women (44%; SD, 12%), and 27 nonpregnant women (52%; SD, 7%). Binding, neutralizing, and functional nonneutralizing antibody responses as well as CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses were present in pregnant, lactating, and nonpregnant women following vaccination. Binding and neutralizing antibodies were also observed in infant cord blood and breast milk. Binding and neutralizing antibody titers against the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants of concern were reduced, but T-cell responses were preserved against viral variants.

Conclusion And Relevance: In this exploratory analysis of a convenience sample, receipt of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine was immunogenic in pregnant women, and vaccine-elicited antibodies were transported to infant cord blood and breast milk. Pregnant and nonpregnant women who were vaccinated developed cross-reactive antibody responses and T-cell responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.7563DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8120446PMC
June 2021

Correlates of Neutralization against SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern by Early Pandemic Sera.

J Virol 2021 06 24;95(14):e0040421. Epub 2021 Jun 24.

Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern that overcome natural and vaccine-induced immunity threaten to exacerbate the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing evidence suggests that neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses are a primary mechanism of protection against infection. However, little is known about the extent and mechanisms by which natural immunity acquired during the early COVID-19 pandemic confers cross-neutralization of emerging variants. In this study, we investigated cross-neutralization of the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 SARS-CoV-2 variants in a well-characterized cohort of early pandemic convalescent subjects. We observed modestly decreased cross-neutralization of B.1.1.7 but a substantial 4.8-fold reduction in cross-neutralization of B.1.351. Correlates of cross-neutralization included receptor binding domain (RBD) and N-terminal domain (NTD) binding antibodies, homologous NAb titers, and membrane-directed T cell responses. These data shed light on the cross-neutralization of emerging variants by early pandemic convalescent immune responses. Widespread immunity to SARS-CoV-2 will be necessary to end the COVID-19 pandemic. NAb responses are a critical component of immunity that can be stimulated by natural infection as well as vaccines. However, SARS-CoV-2 variants are emerging that contain mutations in the spike gene that promote evasion from NAb responses. These variants may therefore delay control of the COVID-19 pandemic. We studied whether NAb responses from early COVID-19 convalescent patients are effective against the two SARS-CoV-2 variants, B.1.1.7 and B.1.351. We observed that the B.1.351 variant demonstrates significantly reduced susceptibility to early pandemic NAb responses. We additionally characterized virological, immunological, and clinical features that correlate with cross-neutralization. These studies increase our understanding of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00404-21DOI Listing
June 2021

Engineered SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain improves immunogenicity in mice and elicits protective immunity in hamsters.

bioRxiv 2021 Mar 4. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Global containment of COVID-19 still requires accessible and affordable vaccines for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Recently approved vaccines provide needed interventions, albeit at prices that may limit their global access. Subunit vaccines based on recombinant proteins are suited for large-volume microbial manufacturing to yield billions of doses annually, minimizing their manufacturing costs. These types of vaccines are well-established, proven interventions with multiple safe and efficacious commercial examples. Many vaccine candidates of this type for SARS-CoV-2 rely on sequences containing the receptor-binding domain (RBD), which mediates viral entry to cells via ACE2. Here we report an engineered sequence variant of RBD that exhibits high-yield manufacturability, high-affinity binding to ACE2, and enhanced immunogenicity after a single dose in mice compared to the Wuhan-Hu-1 variant used in current vaccines. Antibodies raised against the engineered protein exhibited heterotypic binding to the RBD from two recently reported SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (501Y.V1/V2). Presentation of the engineered RBD on a designed virus-like particle (VLP) also reduced weight loss in hamsters upon viral challenge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.03.433558DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7941618PMC
March 2021