Publications by authors named "Alexander D Douglas"

43 Publications

Efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern 202012/01 (B.1.1.7): an exploratory analysis of a randomised controlled trial.

Lancet 2021 04 30;397(10282):1351-1362. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Background: A new variant of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.7, emerged as the dominant cause of COVID-19 disease in the UK from November, 2020. We report a post-hoc analysis of the efficacy of the adenoviral vector vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222), against this variant.

Methods: Volunteers (aged ≥18 years) who were enrolled in phase 2/3 vaccine efficacy studies in the UK, and who were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or a meningococcal conjugate control (MenACWY) vaccine, provided upper airway swabs on a weekly basis and also if they developed symptoms of COVID-19 disease (a cough, a fever of 37·8°C or higher, shortness of breath, anosmia, or ageusia). Swabs were tested by nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) for SARS-CoV-2 and positive samples were sequenced through the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium. Neutralising antibody responses were measured using a live-virus microneutralisation assay against the B.1.1.7 lineage and a canonical non-B.1.1.7 lineage (Victoria). The efficacy analysis included symptomatic COVID-19 in seronegative participants with a NAAT positive swab more than 14 days after a second dose of vaccine. Participants were analysed according to vaccine received. Vaccine efficacy was calculated as 1 - relative risk (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vs MenACWY groups) derived from a robust Poisson regression model. This study is continuing and is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04400838, and ISRCTN, 15281137.

Findings: Participants in efficacy cohorts were recruited between May 31 and Nov 13, 2020, and received booster doses between Aug 3 and Dec 30, 2020. Of 8534 participants in the primary efficacy cohort, 6636 (78%) were aged 18-55 years and 5065 (59%) were female. Between Oct 1, 2020, and Jan 14, 2021, 520 participants developed SARS-CoV-2 infection. 1466 NAAT positive nose and throat swabs were collected from these participants during the trial. Of these, 401 swabs from 311 participants were successfully sequenced. Laboratory virus neutralisation activity by vaccine-induced antibodies was lower against the B.1.1.7 variant than against the Victoria lineage (geometric mean ratio 8·9, 95% CI 7·2-11·0). Clinical vaccine efficacy against symptomatic NAAT positive infection was 70·4% (95% CI 43·6-84·5) for B.1.1.7 and 81·5% (67·9-89·4) for non-B.1.1.7 lineages.

Interpretation: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 showed reduced neutralisation activity against the B.1.1.7 variant compared with a non-B.1.1.7 variant in vitro, but the vaccine showed efficacy against the B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Funding: UK Research and Innovation, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Thames Valley and South Midlands NIHR Clinical Research Network, and AstraZeneca.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00628-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8009612PMC
April 2021

Single-dose administration and the influence of the timing of the booster dose on immunogenicity and efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) vaccine: a pooled analysis of four randomised trials.

Lancet 2021 03 19;397(10277):881-891. Epub 2021 Feb 19.

Department of Infection, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK; MRC Clinical Trials Unit, University College London, London, UK.

Background: The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) vaccine has been approved for emergency use by the UK regulatory authority, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, with a regimen of two standard doses given with an interval of 4-12 weeks. The planned roll-out in the UK will involve vaccinating people in high-risk categories with their first dose immediately, and delivering the second dose 12 weeks later. Here, we provide both a further prespecified pooled analysis of trials of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and exploratory analyses of the impact on immunogenicity and efficacy of extending the interval between priming and booster doses. In addition, we show the immunogenicity and protection afforded by the first dose, before a booster dose has been offered.

Methods: We present data from three single-blind randomised controlled trials-one phase 1/2 study in the UK (COV001), one phase 2/3 study in the UK (COV002), and a phase 3 study in Brazil (COV003)-and one double-blind phase 1/2 study in South Africa (COV005). As previously described, individuals 18 years and older were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive two standard doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (5 × 10 viral particles) or a control vaccine or saline placebo. In the UK trial, a subset of participants received a lower dose (2·2 × 10 viral particles) of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 for the first dose. The primary outcome was virologically confirmed symptomatic COVID-19 disease, defined as a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)-positive swab combined with at least one qualifying symptom (fever ≥37·8°C, cough, shortness of breath, or anosmia or ageusia) more than 14 days after the second dose. Secondary efficacy analyses included cases occuring at least 22 days after the first dose. Antibody responses measured by immunoassay and by pseudovirus neutralisation were exploratory outcomes. All cases of COVID-19 with a NAAT-positive swab were adjudicated for inclusion in the analysis by a masked independent endpoint review committee. The primary analysis included all participants who were SARS-CoV-2 N protein seronegative at baseline, had had at least 14 days of follow-up after the second dose, and had no evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection from NAAT swabs. Safety was assessed in all participants who received at least one dose. The four trials are registered at ISRCTN89951424 (COV003) and ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04324606 (COV001), NCT04400838 (COV002), and NCT04444674 (COV005).

Findings: Between April 23 and Dec 6, 2020, 24 422 participants were recruited and vaccinated across the four studies, of whom 17 178 were included in the primary analysis (8597 receiving ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and 8581 receiving control vaccine). The data cutoff for these analyses was Dec 7, 2020. 332 NAAT-positive infections met the primary endpoint of symptomatic infection more than 14 days after the second dose. Overall vaccine efficacy more than 14 days after the second dose was 66·7% (95% CI 57·4-74·0), with 84 (1·0%) cases in the 8597 participants in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and 248 (2·9%) in the 8581 participants in the control group. There were no hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group after the initial 21-day exclusion period, and 15 in the control group. 108 (0·9%) of 12 282 participants in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and 127 (1·1%) of 11 962 participants in the control group had serious adverse events. There were seven deaths considered unrelated to vaccination (two in the ChAdOx1 nCov-19 group and five in the control group), including one COVID-19-related death in one participant in the control group. Exploratory analyses showed that vaccine efficacy after a single standard dose of vaccine from day 22 to day 90 after vaccination was 76·0% (59·3-85·9). Our modelling analysis indicated that protection did not wane during this initial 3-month period. Similarly, antibody levels were maintained during this period with minimal waning by day 90 (geometric mean ratio [GMR] 0·66 [95% CI 0·59-0·74]). In the participants who received two standard doses, after the second dose, efficacy was higher in those with a longer prime-boost interval (vaccine efficacy 81·3% [95% CI 60·3-91·2] at ≥12 weeks) than in those with a short interval (vaccine efficacy 55·1% [33·0-69·9] at <6 weeks). These observations are supported by immunogenicity data that showed binding antibody responses more than two-fold higher after an interval of 12 or more weeks compared with an interval of less than 6 weeks in those who were aged 18-55 years (GMR 2·32 [2·01-2·68]).

Interpretation: The results of this primary analysis of two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 were consistent with those seen in the interim analysis of the trials and confirm that the vaccine is efficacious, with results varying by dose interval in exploratory analyses. A 3-month dose interval might have advantages over a programme with a short dose interval for roll-out of a pandemic vaccine to protect the largest number of individuals in the population as early as possible when supplies are scarce, while also improving protection after receiving a second dose.

Funding: UK Research and Innovation, National Institutes of Health Research (NIHR), The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lemann Foundation, Rede D'Or, the Brava and Telles Foundation, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Thames Valley and South Midland's NIHR Clinical Research Network, and AstraZeneca.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00432-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7894131PMC
March 2021

T cell and antibody responses induced by a single dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) vaccine in a phase 1/2 clinical trial.

Nat Med 2021 02 17;27(2):270-278. Epub 2020 Dec 17.

The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), has caused a global pandemic, and safe, effective vaccines are urgently needed. Strong, Th1-skewed T cell responses can drive protective humoral and cell-mediated immune responses and might reduce the potential for disease enhancement. Cytotoxic T cells clear virus-infected host cells and contribute to control of infection. Studies of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 have suggested a protective role for both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses in recovery from COVID-19 (refs. ). ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) is a candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine comprising a replication-deficient simian adenovirus expressing full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. We recently reported preliminary safety and immunogenicity data from a phase 1/2 trial of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (NCT04400838) given as either a one- or two-dose regimen. The vaccine was tolerated, with induction of neutralizing antibodies and antigen-specific T cells against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Here we describe, in detail, exploratory analyses of the immune responses in adults, aged 18-55 years, up to 8 weeks after vaccination with a single dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 in this trial, demonstrating an induction of a Th1-biased response characterized by interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α cytokine secretion by CD4 T cells and antibody production predominantly of IgG1 and IgG3 subclasses. CD8 T cells, of monofunctional, polyfunctional and cytotoxic phenotypes, were also induced. Taken together, these results suggest a favorable immune profile induced by ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, supporting the progression of this vaccine candidate to ongoing phase 2/3 trials to assess vaccine efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-01194-5DOI Listing
February 2021

Phase 1/2 trial of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 with a booster dose induces multifunctional antibody responses.

Nat Med 2021 02 17;27(2):279-288. Epub 2020 Dec 17.

The Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

More than 190 vaccines are currently in development to prevent infection by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Animal studies suggest that while neutralizing antibodies against the viral spike protein may correlate with protection, additional antibody functions may also be important in preventing infection. Previously, we reported early immunogenicity and safety outcomes of a viral vector coronavirus vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222), in a single-blinded phase 1/2 randomized controlled trial of healthy adults aged 18-55 years ( NCT04324606 ). Now we describe safety and exploratory humoral and cellular immunogenicity of the vaccine, from subgroups of volunteers in that trial, who were subsequently allocated to receive a homologous full-dose (SD/SD D56; n = 20) or half-dose (SD/LD D56; n = 32) ChAdOx1 booster vaccine 56 d following prime vaccination. Previously reported immunogenicity data from the open-label 28-d interval prime-boost group (SD/SD D28; n = 10) are also presented to facilitate comparison. Additionally, we describe volunteers boosted with the comparator vaccine (MenACWY; n = 10). In this interim report, we demonstrate that a booster dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is safe and better tolerated than priming doses. Using a systems serology approach we also demonstrate that anti-spike neutralizing antibody titers, as well as Fc-mediated functional antibody responses, including antibody-dependent neutrophil/monocyte phagocytosis, complement activation and natural killer cell activation, are substantially enhanced by a booster dose of vaccine. A booster dose of vaccine induced stronger antibody responses than a dose-sparing half-dose boost, although the magnitude of T cell responses did not increase with either boost dose. These data support the two-dose vaccine regime that is now being evaluated in phase 3 clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-01179-4DOI Listing
February 2021

Safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222) against SARS-CoV-2: an interim analysis of four randomised controlled trials in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK.

Lancet 2021 01 8;397(10269):99-111. Epub 2020 Dec 8.

St George's Vaccine Institute, St George's, University of London, London, UK.

Background: A safe and efficacious vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), if deployed with high coverage, could contribute to the control of the COVID-19 pandemic. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in a pooled interim analysis of four trials.

Methods: This analysis includes data from four ongoing blinded, randomised, controlled trials done across the UK, Brazil, and South Africa. Participants aged 18 years and older were randomly assigned (1:1) to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine or control (meningococcal group A, C, W, and Y conjugate vaccine or saline). Participants in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group received two doses containing 5 × 10 viral particles (standard dose; SD/SD cohort); a subset in the UK trial received a half dose as their first dose (low dose) and a standard dose as their second dose (LD/SD cohort). The primary efficacy analysis included symptomatic COVID-19 in seronegative participants with a nucleic acid amplification test-positive swab more than 14 days after a second dose of vaccine. Participants were analysed according to treatment received, with data cutoff on Nov 4, 2020. Vaccine efficacy was calculated as 1 - relative risk derived from a robust Poisson regression model adjusted for age. Studies are registered at ISRCTN89951424 and ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04324606, NCT04400838, and NCT04444674.

Findings: Between April 23 and Nov 4, 2020, 23 848 participants were enrolled and 11 636 participants (7548 in the UK, 4088 in Brazil) were included in the interim primary efficacy analysis. In participants who received two standard doses, vaccine efficacy was 62·1% (95% CI 41·0-75·7; 27 [0·6%] of 4440 in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group vs71 [1·6%] of 4455 in the control group) and in participants who received a low dose followed by a standard dose, efficacy was 90·0% (67·4-97·0; three [0·2%] of 1367 vs 30 [2·2%] of 1374; p=0·010). Overall vaccine efficacy across both groups was 70·4% (95·8% CI 54·8-80·6; 30 [0·5%] of 5807 vs 101 [1·7%] of 5829). From 21 days after the first dose, there were ten cases hospitalised for COVID-19, all in the control arm; two were classified as severe COVID-19, including one death. There were 74 341 person-months of safety follow-up (median 3·4 months, IQR 1·3-4·8): 175 severe adverse events occurred in 168 participants, 84 events in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and 91 in the control group. Three events were classified as possibly related to a vaccine: one in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group, one in the control group, and one in a participant who remains masked to group allocation.

Interpretation: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 has an acceptable safety profile and has been found to be efficacious against symptomatic COVID-19 in this interim analysis of ongoing clinical trials.

Funding: UK Research and Innovation, National Institutes for Health Research (NIHR), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lemann Foundation, Rede D'Or, Brava and Telles Foundation, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Thames Valley and South Midland's NIHR Clinical Research Network, and AstraZeneca.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32661-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7723445PMC
January 2021

Safety and immunogenicity of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine administered in a prime-boost regimen in young and old adults (COV002): a single-blind, randomised, controlled, phase 2/3 trial.

Lancet 2021 12 19;396(10267):1979-1993. Epub 2020 Nov 19.

The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Background: Older adults (aged ≥70 years) are at increased risk of severe disease and death if they develop COVID-19 and are therefore a priority for immunisation should an efficacious vaccine be developed. Immunogenicity of vaccines is often worse in older adults as a result of immunosenescence. We have reported the immunogenicity of a novel chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222), in young adults, and now describe the safety and immunogenicity of this vaccine in a wider range of participants, including adults aged 70 years and older.

Methods: In this report of the phase 2 component of a single-blind, randomised, controlled, phase 2/3 trial (COV002), healthy adults aged 18 years and older were enrolled at two UK clinical research facilities, in an age-escalation manner, into 18-55 years, 56-69 years, and 70 years and older immunogenicity subgroups. Participants were eligible if they did not have severe or uncontrolled medical comorbidities or a high frailty score (if aged ≥65 years). First, participants were recruited to a low-dose cohort, and within each age group, participants were randomly assigned to receive either intramuscular ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (2·2 × 10 virus particles) or a control vaccine, MenACWY, using block randomisation and stratified by age and dose group and study site, using the following ratios: in the 18-55 years group, 1:1 to either two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or two doses of MenACWY; in the 56-69 years group, 3:1:3:1 to one dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, one dose of MenACWY, two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, or two doses of MenACWY; and in the 70 years and older, 5:1:5:1 to one dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, one dose of MenACWY, two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, or two doses of MenACWY. Prime-booster regimens were given 28 days apart. Participants were then recruited to the standard-dose cohort (3·5-6·5 × 10 virus particles of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) and the same randomisation procedures were followed, except the 18-55 years group was assigned in a 5:1 ratio to two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or two doses of MenACWY. Participants and investigators, but not staff administering the vaccine, were masked to vaccine allocation. The specific objectives of this report were to assess the safety and humoral and cellular immunogenicity of a single-dose and two-dose schedule in adults older than 55 years. Humoral responses at baseline and after each vaccination until 1 year after the booster were assessed using an in-house standardised ELISA, a multiplex immunoassay, and a live severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) microneutralisation assay (MNA). Cellular responses were assessed using an ex-vivo IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunospot assay. The coprimary outcomes of the trial were efficacy, as measured by the number of cases of symptomatic, virologically confirmed COVID-19, and safety, as measured by the occurrence of serious adverse events. Analyses were by group allocation in participants who received the vaccine. Here, we report the preliminary findings on safety, reactogenicity, and cellular and humoral immune responses. This study is ongoing and is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04400838, and ISRCTN, 15281137.

Findings: Between May 30 and Aug 8, 2020, 560 participants were enrolled: 160 aged 18-55 years (100 assigned to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, 60 assigned to MenACWY), 160 aged 56-69 years (120 assigned to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19: 40 assigned to MenACWY), and 240 aged 70 years and older (200 assigned to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19: 40 assigned to MenACWY). Seven participants did not receive the boost dose of their assigned two-dose regimen, one participant received the incorrect vaccine, and three were excluded from immunogenicity analyses due to incorrectly labelled samples. 280 (50%) of 552 analysable participants were female. Local and systemic reactions were more common in participants given ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 than in those given the control vaccine, and similar in nature to those previously reported (injection-site pain, feeling feverish, muscle ache, headache), but were less common in older adults (aged ≥56 years) than younger adults. In those receiving two standard doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, after the prime vaccination local reactions were reported in 43 (88%) of 49 participants in the 18-55 years group, 22 (73%) of 30 in the 56-69 years group, and 30 (61%) of 49 in the 70 years and older group, and systemic reactions in 42 (86%) participants in the 18-55 years group, 23 (77%) in the 56-69 years group, and 32 (65%) in the 70 years and older group. As of Oct 26, 2020, 13 serious adverse events occurred during the study period, none of which were considered to be related to either study vaccine. In participants who received two doses of vaccine, median anti-spike SARS-CoV-2 IgG responses 28 days after the boost dose were similar across the three age cohorts (standard-dose groups: 18-55 years, 20 713 arbitrary units [AU]/mL [IQR 13 898-33 550], n=39; 56-69 years, 16 170 AU/mL [10 233-40 353], n=26; and ≥70 years 17 561 AU/mL [9705-37 796], n=47; p=0·68). Neutralising antibody titres after a boost dose were similar across all age groups (median MNA at day 42 in the standard-dose groups: 18-55 years, 193 [IQR 113-238], n=39; 56-69 years, 144 [119-347], n=20; and ≥70 years, 161 [73-323], n=47; p=0·40). By 14 days after the boost dose, 208 (>99%) of 209 boosted participants had neutralising antibody responses. T-cell responses peaked at day 14 after a single standard dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (18-55 years: median 1187 spot-forming cells [SFCs] per million peripheral blood mononuclear cells [IQR 841-2428], n=24; 56-69 years: 797 SFCs [383-1817], n=29; and ≥70 years: 977 SFCs [458-1914], n=48).

Interpretation: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 appears to be better tolerated in older adults than in younger adults and has similar immunogenicity across all age groups after a boost dose. Further assessment of the efficacy of this vaccine is warranted in all age groups and individuals with comorbidities.

Funding: UK Research and Innovation, National Institutes for Health Research (NIHR), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Thames Valley and South Midlands NIHR Clinical Research Network, and AstraZeneca.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32466-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7674972PMC
December 2021

Immunological considerations for SARS-CoV-2 human challenge studies.

Nat Rev Immunol 2020 12;20(12):715-716

Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41577-020-00472-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7576971PMC
December 2020

Safety and immunogenicity of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2: a preliminary report of a phase 1/2, single-blind, randomised controlled trial.

Lancet 2020 08 20;396(10249):467-478. Epub 2020 Jul 20.

The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford, UK.

Background: The pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) might be curtailed by vaccination. We assessed the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of a viral vectored coronavirus vaccine that expresses the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.

Methods: We did a phase 1/2, single-blind, randomised controlled trial in five trial sites in the UK of a chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein compared with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) as control. Healthy adults aged 18-55 years with no history of laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection or of COVID-19-like symptoms were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 at a dose of 5 × 10 viral particles or MenACWY as a single intramuscular injection. A protocol amendment in two of the five sites allowed prophylactic paracetamol to be administered before vaccination. Ten participants assigned to a non-randomised, unblinded ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 prime-boost group received a two-dose schedule, with the booster vaccine administered 28 days after the first dose. Humoral responses at baseline and following vaccination were assessed using a standardised total IgG ELISA against trimeric SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, a muliplexed immunoassay, three live SARS-CoV-2 neutralisation assays (a 50% plaque reduction neutralisation assay [PRNT]; a microneutralisation assay [MNA, MNA, and MNA]; and Marburg VN), and a pseudovirus neutralisation assay. Cellular responses were assessed using an ex-vivo interferon-γ enzyme-linked immunospot assay. The co-primary outcomes are to assess efficacy, as measured by cases of symptomatic virologically confirmed COVID-19, and safety, as measured by the occurrence of serious adverse events. Analyses were done by group allocation in participants who received the vaccine. Safety was assessed over 28 days after vaccination. Here, we report the preliminary findings on safety, reactogenicity, and cellular and humoral immune responses. The study is ongoing, and was registered at ISRCTN, 15281137, and ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04324606.

Findings: Between April 23 and May 21, 2020, 1077 participants were enrolled and assigned to receive either ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (n=543) or MenACWY (n=534), ten of whom were enrolled in the non-randomised ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 prime-boost group. Local and systemic reactions were more common in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and many were reduced by use of prophylactic paracetamol, including pain, feeling feverish, chills, muscle ache, headache, and malaise (all p<0·05). There were no serious adverse events related to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. In the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group, spike-specific T-cell responses peaked on day 14 (median 856 spot-forming cells per million peripheral blood mononuclear cells, IQR 493-1802; n=43). Anti-spike IgG responses rose by day 28 (median 157 ELISA units [EU], 96-317; n=127), and were boosted following a second dose (639 EU, 360-792; n=10). Neutralising antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 were detected in 32 (91%) of 35 participants after a single dose when measured in MNA and in 35 (100%) participants when measured in PRNT. After a booster dose, all participants had neutralising activity (nine of nine in MNA at day 42 and ten of ten in Marburg VN on day 56). Neutralising antibody responses correlated strongly with antibody levels measured by ELISA (R=0·67 by Marburg VN; p<0·001).

Interpretation: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 showed an acceptable safety profile, and homologous boosting increased antibody responses. These results, together with the induction of both humoral and cellular immune responses, support large-scale evaluation of this candidate vaccine in an ongoing phase 3 programme.

Funding: UK Research and Innovation, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Thames Valley and South Midland's NIHR Clinical Research Network, and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner site Gießen-Marburg-Langen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31604-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7445431PMC
August 2020

Functional Comparison of Blood-Stage Malaria Vaccine Candidate Antigens.

Front Immunol 2019 4;10:1254. Epub 2019 Jun 4.

Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

The malaria genome encodes over 5,000 proteins and many of these have also been proposed to be potential vaccine candidates, although few of these have been tested clinically. RH5 is one of the leading blood-stage malaria vaccine antigens and Phase I/II clinical trials of vaccines containing this antigen are currently underway. Its likely mechanism of action is to elicit antibodies that can neutralize merozoites by blocking their invasion of red blood cells (RBC). However, many other antigens could also elicit neutralizing antibodies against the merozoite, and most of these have never been compared directly to RH5. The objective of this study was to compare a range of blood-stage antigens to RH5, to identify any antigens that outperform or synergize with anti-RH5 antibodies. We selected 55 gene products, covering 15 candidate antigens that have been described in the literature and 40 genes selected on the basis of bioinformatics functional prediction. We were able to make 20 protein-in-adjuvant vaccines from the original selection. Of these, S-antigen and CyRPA robustly elicited antibodies with neutralizing properties. Anti-CyRPA IgG generally showed additive GIA with anti-RH5 IgG, although high levels of anti-CyRPA-specific rabbit polyclonal IgG were required to achieve 50% GIA. Our data suggest that further vaccine antigen screening efforts are required to identify a second merozoite target with similar antibody-susceptibility to RH5.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.01254DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6558156PMC
October 2020

Human Antibodies that Slow Erythrocyte Invasion Potentiate Malaria-Neutralizing Antibodies.

Cell 2019 06 13;178(1):216-228.e21. Epub 2019 Jun 13.

Burnet Institute, 85 Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia.

The Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) is the leading target for next-generation vaccines against the disease-causing blood-stage of malaria. However, little is known about how human antibodies confer functional immunity against this antigen. We isolated a panel of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against PfRH5 from peripheral blood B cells from vaccinees in the first clinical trial of a PfRH5-based vaccine. We identified a subset of mAbs with neutralizing activity that bind to three distinct sites and another subset of mAbs that are non-functional, or even antagonistic to neutralizing antibodies. We also identify the epitope of a novel group of non-neutralizing antibodies that significantly reduce the speed of red blood cell invasion by the merozoite, thereby potentiating the effect of all neutralizing PfRH5 antibodies as well as synergizing with antibodies targeting other malaria invasion proteins. Our results provide a roadmap for structure-guided vaccine development to maximize antibody efficacy against blood-stage malaria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2019.05.025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6602525PMC
June 2019

Simian adenovirus vector production for early-phase clinical trials: A simple method applicable to multiple serotypes and using entirely disposable product-contact components.

Vaccine 2019 11 30;37(47):6951-6961. Epub 2019 Apr 30.

Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford OX3 7BN, UK. Electronic address:

A variety of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant processes have been reported for production of non-replicating adenovirus vectors, but important challenges remain. Most clinical development of adenovirus vectors now uses simian adenoviruses or rare human serotypes, whereas reported manufacturing processes mainly use serotypes such as AdHu5 which are of questionable relevance for clinical vaccine development. Many clinically relevant vaccine transgenes interfere with adenovirus replication, whereas most reported process development uses selected antigens or even model transgenes such as fluorescent proteins which cause little such interference. Processes are typically developed for a single adenovirus serotype - transgene combination, requiring extensive further optimization for each new vaccine. There is a need for rapid production platforms for small GMP batches of non-replicating adenovirus vectors for early-phase vaccine trials, particularly in preparation for response to emerging pathogen outbreaks. Such platforms must be robust to variation in the transgene, and ideally also capable of producing adenoviruses of more than one serotype. It is also highly desirable for such processes to be readily implemented in new facilities using commercially available single-use materials, avoiding the need for development of bespoke tools or cleaning validation, and for them to be readily scalable for later-stage studies. Here we report the development of such a process, using single-use stirred-tank bioreactors, a transgene-repressing HEK293 cell - promoter combination, and fully single-use filtration and ion exchange components. We demonstrate applicability of the process to candidate vaccines against rabies, malaria and Rift Valley fever, each based on a different adenovirus serotype. We compare performance of a range of commercially available ion exchange media, including what we believe to be the first published use of a novel media for adenovirus purification (NatriFlo® HD-Q, Merck). We demonstrate the need for minimal process individualization for each vaccine, and that the product fulfils regulatory quality expectations. Cell-specific yields are at the upper end of those previously reported in the literature, and volumetric yields are in the range 1 × 10 - 5 × 10 purified virus particles per litre of culture, such that a 2-4 L process is comfortably adequate to produce vaccine for early-phase trials. The process is readily transferable to any GMP facility with the capability for mammalian cell culture and aseptic filling of sterile products.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.04.056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6949866PMC
November 2019

A defined mechanistic correlate of protection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in non-human primates.

Nat Commun 2019 04 26;10(1):1953. Epub 2019 Apr 26.

Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus Research Building, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford, OX3 7DQ, UK.

Malaria vaccine design and prioritization has been hindered by the lack of a mechanistic correlate of protection. We previously demonstrated a strong association between protection and merozoite-neutralizing antibody responses following vaccination of non-human primates against Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5). Here, we test the mechanism of protection. Using mutant human IgG1 Fc regions engineered not to engage complement or FcR-dependent effector mechanisms, we produce merozoite-neutralizing and non-neutralizing anti-PfRH5 chimeric monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and perform a passive transfer-P. falciparum challenge study in Aotus nancymaae monkeys. At the highest dose tested, 6/6 animals given the neutralizing PfRH5-binding mAb c2AC7 survive the challenge without treatment, compared to 0/6 animals given non-neutralizing PfRH5-binding mAb c4BA7 and 0/6 animals given an isotype control mAb. Our results address the controversy regarding whether merozoite-neutralizing antibody can cause protection against P. falciparum blood-stage infections, and highlight the quantitative challenge of achieving such protection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09894-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6486575PMC
April 2019

A simian-adenovirus-vectored rabies vaccine suitable for thermostabilisation and clinical development for low-cost single-dose pre-exposure prophylaxis.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2018 10 29;12(10):e0006870. Epub 2018 Oct 29.

Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Background: Estimates of current global rabies mortality range from 26,000 to 59,000 deaths per annum. Although pre-exposure prophylaxis using inactivated rabies virus vaccines (IRVs) is effective, it requires two to three doses and is regarded as being too expensive and impractical for inclusion in routine childhood immunization programmes.

Methodology/ Principal Findings: Here we report the development of a simian-adenovirus-vectored rabies vaccine intended to enable cost-effective population-wide pre-exposure prophylaxis against rabies. ChAdOx2 RabG uses the chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 68 (AdC68) backbone previously shown to achieve pre-exposure protection against rabies in non-human primates. ChAdOx2 differs from AdC68 in that it contains the human adenovirus serotype 5 (AdHu5) E4 orf6/7 region in place of the AdC68 equivalents, enhancing ease of manufacturing in cell lines which provide AdHu5 E1 proteins in trans. We show that immunogenicity of ChAdOx2 RabG in mice is comparable to that of AdC68 RabG and other adenovirus serotypes expressing rabies virus glycoprotein. High titers of rabies virus neutralizing antibody (VNA) are elicited after a single dose. The relationship between levels of VNA activity and rabies virus glycoprotein monomer-binding antibody differs after immunization with adenovirus-vectored vaccines and IRV vaccines, suggesting routes to further enhancement of the efficacy of the adenovirus-vectored candidates. We also demonstrate that ChAdOx2 RabG can be thermostabilised using a low-cost method suitable for clinical bio-manufacture and ambient-temperature distribution in tropical climates. Finally, we show that a dose-sparing effect can be achieved by formulating ChAdOx2 RabG with a simple chemical adjuvant. This approach could lower the cost of ChAdOx2 RabG and other adenovirus-vectored vaccines.

Conclusions/ Significance: ChAdOx2 RabG may prove to be a useful tool to reduce the human rabies death toll. We have secured funding for Good Manufacturing Practice- compliant bio-manufacture and Phase I clinical trial of this candidate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006870DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224154PMC
October 2018

Production, quality control, stability, and potency of cGMP-produced RH5.1 protein vaccine expressed in S2 cells.

NPJ Vaccines 2018 17;3:32. Epub 2018 Aug 17.

2Clinical BioManufacturing Facility, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 7JT UK.

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 ExpreS platform (based on a 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 AS01 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 AS01 following addition of RH5.1. Subsequent immunization of mice confirmed the RH5.1/AS01 vaccine was immunogenic and could induce functional growth inhibitory antibodies against blood-stage in vitro. The RH5.1/AS01 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 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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41541-018-0071-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6098134PMC
August 2018

Human vaccination against RH5 induces neutralizing antimalarial antibodies that inhibit RH5 invasion complex interactions.

JCI Insight 2017 11 2;2(21). Epub 2017 Nov 2.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, Queensland, Australia.

The development of a highly effective vaccine remains a key strategic goal to aid the control and eventual eradication of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. In recent years, the reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (RH5) has emerged as the most promising blood-stage P. falciparum candidate antigen to date, capable of conferring protection against stringent challenge in Aotus monkeys. We report on the first clinical trial to our knowledge to assess the RH5 antigen - a dose-escalation phase Ia study in 24 healthy, malaria-naive adult volunteers. We utilized established viral vectors, the replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63), and the attenuated orthopoxvirus modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), encoding RH5 from the 3D7 clone of P. falciparum. Vaccines were administered i.m. in a heterologous prime-boost regimen using an 8-week interval and were well tolerated. Vaccine-induced anti-RH5 serum antibodies exhibited cross-strain functional growth inhibition activity (GIA) in vitro, targeted linear and conformational epitopes within RH5, and inhibited key interactions within the RH5 invasion complex. This is the first time to our knowledge that substantial RH5-specific responses have been induced by immunization in humans, with levels greatly exceeding the serum antibody responses observed in African adults following years of natural malaria exposure. These data support the progression of RH5-based vaccines to human efficacy testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.96381DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5752323PMC
November 2017

Accelerating the clinical development of protein-based vaccines for malaria by efficient purification using a four amino acid C-terminal 'C-tag'.

Int J Parasitol 2017 06 30;47(7):435-446. Epub 2017 Jan 30.

The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus Research Building, Oxford OX3 7DQ, UK. Electronic address:

Development of bespoke biomanufacturing processes remains a critical bottleneck for translational studies, in particular when modest quantities of a novel product are required for proof-of-concept Phase I/II clinical trials. In these instances the ability to develop a biomanufacturing process quickly and relatively cheaply, without risk to product quality or safety, provides a great advantage by allowing new antigens or concepts in immunogen design to more rapidly enter human testing. These challenges with production and purification are particularly apparent when developing recombinant protein-based vaccines for difficult parasitic diseases, with Plasmodium falciparum malaria being a prime example. To that end, we have previously reported the expression of a novel protein vaccine for malaria using the ExpreSDrosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 stable cell line system, however, a very low overall process yield (typically <5% recovery of hexa-histidine-tagged protein) meant the initial purification strategy was not suitable for scale-up and clinical biomanufacture of such a vaccine. Here we describe a newly available affinity purification method that was ideally suited to purification of the same protein which encodes the P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 - currently the leading antigen for assessment in next generation vaccines aiming to prevent red blood cell invasion by the blood-stage parasite. This purification system makes use of a C-terminal tag known as 'C-tag', composed of the four amino acids, glutamic acid - proline - glutamic acid - alanine (E-P-E-A), which is selectively purified on a CaptureSelect™ affinity resin coupled to a camelid single chain antibody, called NbSyn2. The C-terminal fusion of this short C-tag to P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 achieved >85% recovery and >70% purity in a single step purification directly from clarified, concentrated Schneider 2 cell supernatant under mild conditions. Biochemical and immunological analysis showed that the C-tagged and hexa-histidine-tagged P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 proteins are comparable. The C-tag technology has the potential to form the basis of a current good manufacturing practice-compliant platform, which could greatly improve the speed and ease with which novel protein-based products progress to clinical testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2016.12.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5482323PMC
June 2017

Production of full-length soluble Plasmodium falciparum RH5 protein vaccine using a Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 stable cell line system.

Sci Rep 2016 07 26;6:30357. Epub 2016 Jul 26.

The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus Research Building, Oxford, OX3 7DQ, UK.

The Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) has recently emerged as a leading candidate antigen against the blood-stage human malaria parasite. However it has proved challenging to identify a heterologous expression platform that can produce a soluble protein-based vaccine in a manner compliant with current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP). Here we report the production of full-length PfRH5 protein using a cGMP-compliant platform called ExpreS(2), based on a Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 (S2) stable cell line system. Five sequence variants of PfRH5 were expressed that differed in terms of mutagenesis strategies to remove potential N-linked glycans. All variants bound the PfRH5 receptor basigin and were recognized by a panel of monoclonal antibodies. Analysis following immunization of rabbits identified quantitative and qualitative differences in terms of the functional IgG antibody response against the P. falciparum parasite. The antibodies induced by one protein variant were shown to be qualitatively similar to responses induced by other vaccine platforms. This work identifies Drosophila S2 cells as a clinically-relevant platform suited for the production of 'difficult-to-make' proteins from Plasmodium parasites, and identifies a PfRH5 sequence variant that can be used for clinical production of a non-glycosylated, soluble full-length protein vaccine immunogen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep30357DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960544PMC
July 2016

Germinal Center B Cell and T Follicular Helper Cell Responses to Viral Vector and Protein-in-Adjuvant Vaccines.

J Immunol 2016 08 13;197(4):1242-51. Epub 2016 Jul 13.

Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7DQ, United Kingdom; and

There is great interest in the development of Ab-inducing subunit vaccines targeting infections, including HIV, malaria, and Ebola. We previously reported that adenovirus vectored vaccines are potent in priming Ab responses, but uncertainty remains regarding the optimal approach for induction of humoral immune responses. In this study, using OVA as a model Ag, we assessed the magnitude of the primary and anamnestic Ag-specific IgG responses of mice to four clinically relevant vaccine formulations: replication-deficient adenovirus; modified vaccinia Ankara (a poxvirus); protein with alum; and protein in the squalene oil-in-water adjuvant Addavax. We then used flow cytometric assays capable of measuring total and Ag-specific germinal center (GC) B cell and follicular Th cell responses to compare the induction of these responses by the different formulations. We report that adenovirus vectored vaccines induce Ag insert-specific GC B cell and Ab responses of a magnitude comparable to those induced by a potent protein/squalene oil-in-water formulation whereas-despite a robust overall GC response-the insert-specific GC B cell and Ab responses induced by modified vaccinia Ankara were extremely weak. Ag-specific follicular Th cell responses to adenovirus vectored vaccines exceeded those induced by other platforms at day 7 after immunization. We found little evidence that innate immune activation by adenovirus may act as an adjuvant in such a manner that the humoral response to a recombinant protein may be enhanced by coadministering with an adenovirus lacking a transgene of interest. Overall, these studies provide further support for the use of replication-deficient adenoviruses to induce humoral responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1502472DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4974488PMC
August 2016

Demonstration of the Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum Controlled Human Malaria Infection Model to Assess Efficacy of the P. falciparum Apical Membrane Antigen 1 Vaccine, FMP2.1/AS01.

J Infect Dis 2016 Jun 4;213(11):1743-51. Epub 2016 Feb 4.

PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

Background: Models of controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) initiated by mosquito bite have been widely used to assess efficacy of preerythrocytic vaccine candidates in small proof-of-concept phase 2a clinical trials. Efficacy testing of blood-stage malaria parasite vaccines, however, has generally relied on larger-scale phase 2b field trials in malaria-endemic populations. We report the use of a blood-stage P. falciparum CHMI model to assess blood-stage vaccine candidates, using their impact on the parasite multiplication rate (PMR) as the primary efficacy end point.

Methods: Fifteen healthy United Kingdom adult volunteers were vaccinated with FMP2.1, a protein vaccine that is based on the 3D7 clone sequence of apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and formulated in Adjuvant System 01 (AS01). Twelve vaccinees and 15 infectivity controls subsequently underwent blood-stage CHMI. Parasitemia was monitored by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, and PMR was modeled from these data.

Results: FMP2.1/AS01 elicited anti-AMA1 T-cell and serum antibody responses. Analysis of purified immunoglobulin G showed functional growth inhibitory activity against P. falciparum in vitro. There were no vaccine- or CHMI-related safety concerns. All volunteers developed blood-stage parasitemia, with no impact of the vaccine on PMR.

Conclusions: FMP2.1/AS01 demonstrated no efficacy after blood-stage CHMI. However, the model induced highly reproducible infection in all volunteers and will accelerate proof-of-concept testing of future blood-stage vaccine candidates.

Clinical Trials Registration: NCT02044198.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiw039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4857475PMC
June 2016

Standardization of the antibody-dependent respiratory burst assay with human neutrophils and Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

Sci Rep 2015 Sep 16;5:14081. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus Research Building, Oxford, OX3 7DQ, UK.

The assessment of naturally-acquired and vaccine-induced immunity to blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria is of long-standing interest. However, the field has suffered from a paucity of in vitro assays that reproducibly measure the anti-parasitic activity induced by antibodies in conjunction with immune cells. Here we optimize the antibody-dependent respiratory burst (ADRB) assay, which assesses the ability of antibodies to activate the release of reactive oxygen species from human neutrophils in response to P. falciparum blood-stage parasites. We focus particularly on assay parameters affecting serum preparation and concentration, and importantly assess reproducibility. Our standardized protocol involves testing each serum sample in singlicate with three independent neutrophil donors, and indexing responses against a standard positive control of pooled hyper-immune Kenyan sera. The protocol can be used to quickly screen large cohorts of samples from individuals enrolled in immuno-epidemiological studies or clinical vaccine trials, and requires only 6 μL of serum per sample. Using a cohort of 86 samples, we show that malaria-exposed individuals induce higher ADRB activity than malaria-naïve individuals. The development of the ADRB assay complements the use of cell-independent assays in blood-stage malaria, such as the assay of growth inhibitory activity, and provides an important standardized cell-based assay in the field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep14081DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4571651PMC
September 2015

Preclinical Assessment of Viral Vectored and Protein Vaccines Targeting the Duffy-Binding Protein Region II of Plasmodium Vivax.

Front Immunol 2015 8;6:348. Epub 2015 Jul 8.

The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford , Oxford , UK.

Malaria vaccine development has largely focused on Plasmodium falciparum; however, a reawakening to the importance of Plasmodium vivax has spurred efforts to develop vaccines against this difficult to treat and at times severe form of relapsing malaria, which constitutes a significant proportion of human malaria cases worldwide. The almost complete dependence of P. vivax red blood cell invasion on the interaction of the P. vivax Duffy-binding protein region II (PvDBP_RII) with the human Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) makes this antigen an attractive vaccine candidate against blood-stage P. vivax. Here, we generated both preclinical and clinically compatible adenoviral and poxviral vectored vaccine candidates expressing the Salvador I allele of PvDBP_RII - including human adenovirus serotype 5 (HAdV5), chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63), and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors. We report on the antibody and T cell immunogenicity of these vaccines in mice or rabbits, either used alone in a viral vectored prime-boost regime or in "mixed-modality" adenovirus prime - protein-in--adjuvant boost regimes (using a recombinant PvDBP_RII protein antigen formulated in Montanide(®)ISA720 or Abisco(®)100 adjuvants). Antibodies induced by these regimes were found to bind to native parasite antigen from P. vivax infected Thai patients and were capable of inhibiting the binding of PvDBP_RII to its receptor DARC using an in vitro binding inhibition assay. In recent years, recombinant ChAd63 and MVA vectors have been quickly translated into human clinical trials for numerous antigens from P. falciparum as well as a growing number of other pathogens. The vectors reported here are immunogenic in small animals, elicit antibodies against PvDBP_RII, and have recently entered clinical trials, which will provide the first assessment of the safety and immunogenicity of the PvDBP_RII antigen in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2015.00348DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4495344PMC
July 2015

Increased sample volume and use of quantitative reverse-transcription PCR can improve prediction of liver-to-blood inoculum size in controlled human malaria infection studies.

Malar J 2015 Jan 28;14:33. Epub 2015 Jan 28.

Department of Laboratory Medicine and Center for Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Washington (UW), 750 Republican St., E633, Seattle, WA, 98109, USA.

Background: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies increasingly rely on nucleic acid test (NAT) methods to detect and quantify parasites in the blood of infected participants. The lower limits of detection and quantification vary amongst the assays used throughout the world, which may affect the ability of mathematical models to accurately estimate the liver-to-blood inoculum (LBI) values that are used to judge the efficacy of pre-erythrocytic vaccine and drug candidates.

Methods: Samples were collected around the time of onset of pre-patent parasitaemia from subjects who enrolled in two different CHMI clinical trials. Blood samples were tested for Plasmodium falciparum 18S rRNA and/or rDNA targets by different NAT methods and results were compared. Methods included an ultrasensitive, large volume modification of an established quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) assay that achieves detection of as little as one parasite/mL of whole blood.

Results: Large volume qRT-PCR at the University of Washington was the most sensitive test and generated quantifiable data more often than any other NAT methodology. Standard quantitative PCR (qPCR) performed at the University of Oxford and standard volume qRT-PCR performed at the University of Washington were less sensitive than the large volume qRT-PCR, especially at 6.5 days after CHMI. In these trials, the proportion of participants for whom LBI could be accurately quantified using parasite density value greater than or equal to the lower limit of quantification was increased. A greater improvement would be expected in trials in which numerous subjects receive a lower LBI or low dose challenge.

Conclusions: Standard qPCR and qRT-PCR methods with analytical sensitivities of ~20 parasites/mL probably suffice for most CHMI purposes, but the newly developed large volume qRT-PCR may be able to answer specific questions when more analytical sensitivity is required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12936-015-0541-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318195PMC
January 2015

A PfRH5-based vaccine is efficacious against heterologous strain blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infection in aotus monkeys.

Cell Host Microbe 2015 Jan;17(1):130-9

Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7DQ, UK.

Antigenic diversity has posed a critical barrier to vaccine development against the pathogenic blood-stage infection of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. To date, only strain-specific protection has been reported by trials of such vaccines in nonhuman primates. We recently showed that P. falciparum reticulocyte binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5), a merozoite adhesin required for erythrocyte invasion, is highly susceptible to vaccine-inducible strain-transcending parasite-neutralizing antibody. In vivo efficacy of PfRH5-based vaccines has not previously been evaluated. Here, we demonstrate that PfRH5-based vaccines can protect Aotus monkeys against a virulent vaccine-heterologous P. falciparum challenge and show that such protection can be achieved by a human-compatible vaccine formulation. Protection was associated with anti-PfRH5 antibody concentration and in vitro parasite-neutralizing activity, supporting the use of this in vitro assay to predict the in vivo efficacy of future vaccine candidates. These data suggest that PfRH5-based vaccines have potential to achieve strain-transcending efficacy in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2014.11.017DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4297294PMC
January 2015

Evaluation of the efficacy of ChAd63-MVA vectored vaccines expressing circumsporozoite protein and ME-TRAP against controlled human malaria infection in malaria-naive individuals.

J Infect Dis 2015 Apr 21;211(7):1076-86. Epub 2014 Oct 21.

Jenner Institute.

Background: Circumsporozoite protein (CS) is the antigenic target for RTS,S, the most advanced malaria vaccine to date. Heterologous prime-boost with the viral vectors simian adenovirus 63 (ChAd63)-modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is the most potent inducer of T-cells in humans, demonstrating significant efficacy when expressing the preerythrocytic antigen insert multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP). We hypothesized that ChAd63-MVA containing CS may result in a significant clinical protective efficacy.

Methods: We conducted an open-label, 2-site, partially randomized Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) study to compare the clinical efficacy of ChAd63-MVA CS with ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP.

Results: One of 15 vaccinees (7%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 2 of 15 (13%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP achieved sterile protection after CHMI. Three of 15 vaccinees (20%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 5 of 15 (33%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP demonstrated a delay in time to treatment, compared with unvaccinated controls. In quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses, ChAd63-MVA CS was estimated to reduce the liver parasite burden by 69%-79%, compared with 79%-84% for ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP.

Conclusions: ChAd63-MVA CS does reduce the liver parasite burden, but ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP remains the most promising antigenic insert for a vectored liver-stage vaccine. Detailed analyses of parasite kinetics may allow detection of smaller but biologically important differences in vaccine efficacy that can influence future vaccine development.

Clinical Trials Registration: NCT01623557.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiu579DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354983PMC
April 2015

Combining viral vectored and protein-in-adjuvant vaccines against the blood-stage malaria antigen AMA1: report on a phase 1a clinical trial.

Mol Ther 2014 Dec 26;22(12):2142-2154. Epub 2014 Aug 26.

The Jenner Institute Laboratories, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

The development of effective vaccines against difficult disease targets will require the identification of new subunit vaccination strategies that can induce and maintain effective immune responses in humans. Here we report on a phase 1a clinical trial using the AMA1 antigen from the blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite delivered either as recombinant protein formulated with Alhydrogel adjuvant with and without CPG 7909, or using recombinant vectored vaccines--chimpanzee adenovirus ChAd63 and the orthopoxvirus MVA. A variety of promising "mixed-modality" regimens were tested. All volunteers were primed with ChAd63, and then subsequently boosted with MVA and/or protein-in-adjuvant using either an 8- or 16-week prime-boost interval. We report on the safety of these regimens, as well as the T cell, B cell, and serum antibody responses. Notably, IgG antibody responses primed by ChAd63 were comparably boosted by AMA1 protein vaccine, irrespective of whether CPG 7909 was included in the Alhydrogel adjuvant. The ability to improve the potency of a relatively weak aluminium-based adjuvant in humans, by previously priming with an adenoviral vaccine vector encoding the same antigen, thus offers a novel vaccination strategy for difficult or neglected disease targets when access to more potent adjuvants is not possible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mt.2014.157DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4250079PMC
December 2014

Structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies.

Nature 2014 Nov 17;515(7527):427-30. Epub 2014 Aug 17.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QU, UK.

Invasion of host erythrocytes is essential to the life cycle of Plasmodium parasites and development of the pathology of malaria. The stages of erythrocyte invasion, including initial contact, apical reorientation, junction formation, and active invagination, are directed by coordinated release of specialized apical organelles and their parasite protein contents. Among these proteins, and central to invasion by all species, are two parasite protein families, the reticulocyte-binding protein homologue (RH) and erythrocyte-binding like proteins, which mediate host-parasite interactions. RH5 from Plasmodium falciparum (PfRH5) is the only member of either family demonstrated to be necessary for erythrocyte invasion in all tested strains, through its interaction with the erythrocyte surface protein basigin (also known as CD147 and EMMPRIN). Antibodies targeting PfRH5 or basigin efficiently block parasite invasion in vitro, making PfRH5 an excellent vaccine candidate. Here we present crystal structures of PfRH5 in complex with basigin and two distinct inhibitory antibodies. PfRH5 adopts a novel fold in which two three-helical bundles come together in a kite-like architecture, presenting binding sites for basigin and inhibitory antibodies at one tip. This provides the first structural insight into erythrocyte binding by the Plasmodium RH protein family and identifies novel inhibitory epitopes to guide design of a new generation of vaccines against the blood-stage parasite.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13715DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4240730PMC
November 2014

External quality assurance of malaria nucleic acid testing for clinical trials and eradication surveillance.

PLoS One 2014 16;9(5):e97398. Epub 2014 May 16.

Department of Medical Microbiology, Radboud University Medical Center (RUMC), Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Nucleic acid testing (NAT) for malaria parasites is an increasingly recommended diagnostic endpoint in clinical trials of vaccine and drug candidates and is also important in surveillance of malaria control and elimination efforts. A variety of reported NAT assays have been described, yet no formal external quality assurance (EQA) program provides validation for the assays in use. Here, we report results of an EQA exercise for malaria NAT assays. Among five centers conducting controlled human malaria infection trials, all centers achieved 100% specificity and demonstrated limits of detection consistent with each laboratory's pre-stated expectations. Quantitative bias of reported results compared to expected results was generally <0.5 log10 parasites/mL except for one laboratory where the EQA effort identified likely reasons for a general quantitative shift. The within-laboratory variation for all assays was low at <10% coefficient of variation across a range of parasite densities. Based on this study, we propose to create a Molecular Malaria Quality Assessment program that fulfills the need for EQA of malaria NAT assays worldwide.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0097398PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023973PMC
January 2015

Neutralization of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites by antibodies against PfRH5.

J Immunol 2014 Jan 29;192(1):245-58. Epub 2013 Nov 29.

Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7DQ, United Kingdom;

There is intense interest in induction and characterization of strain-transcending neutralizing Ab against antigenically variable human pathogens. We have recently identified the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) as a target of broadly neutralizing Abs, but there is little information regarding the functional mechanism(s) of Ab-mediated neutralization. In this study, we report that vaccine-induced polyclonal anti-PfRH5 Abs inhibit the tight attachment of merozoites to erythrocytes and are capable of blocking the interaction of PfRH5 with its receptor basigin. Furthermore, by developing anti-PfRH5 mAbs, we provide evidence of the following: 1) the ability to block the PfRH5-basigin interaction in vitro is predictive of functional activity, but absence of blockade does not predict absence of functional activity; 2) neutralizing mAbs bind spatially related epitopes on the folded protein, involving at least two defined regions of the PfRH5 primary sequence; 3) a brief exposure window of PfRH5 is likely to necessitate rapid binding of Ab to neutralize parasites; and 4) intact bivalent IgG contributes to but is not necessary for parasite neutralization. These data provide important insight into the mechanisms of broadly neutralizing anti-malaria Abs and further encourage anti-PfRH5-based malaria prevention efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1302045DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872115PMC
January 2014