Publications by authors named "Elizabeth Kepl"

7 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Stabilization of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Receptor-Binding Domain Using Deep Mutational Scanning and Structure-Based Design.

Front Immunol 2021 29;12:710263. Epub 2021 Jun 29.

Institute for Protein Design, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States.

The unprecedented global demand for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines has demonstrated the need for highly effective vaccine candidates that are thermostable and amenable to large-scale manufacturing. Nanoparticle immunogens presenting the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein (S) in repetitive arrays are being advanced as second-generation vaccine candidates, as they feature robust manufacturing characteristics and have shown promising immunogenicity in preclinical models. Here, we used previously reported deep mutational scanning (DMS) data to guide the design of stabilized variants of the RBD. The selected mutations fill a cavity in the RBD that has been identified as a linoleic acid binding pocket. Screening of several designs led to the selection of two lead candidates that expressed at higher yields than the wild-type RBD. These stabilized RBDs possess enhanced thermal stability and resistance to aggregation, particularly when incorporated into an icosahedral nanoparticle immunogen that maintained its integrity and antigenicity for 28 days at 35-40°C, while corresponding immunogens displaying the wild-type RBD experienced aggregation and loss of antigenicity. The stabilized immunogens preserved the potent immunogenicity of the original nanoparticle immunogen, which is currently being evaluated in a Phase I/II clinical trial. Our findings may improve the scalability and stability of RBD-based coronavirus vaccines in any format and more generally highlight the utility of comprehensive DMS data in guiding vaccine design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.710263DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8276696PMC
July 2021

Qualification of ELISA and neutralization methodologies to measure SARS-CoV-2 humoral immunity using human clinical samples.

bioRxiv 2021 Jul 2. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

In response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic many vaccines have been developed and evaluated in human clinical trials. The humoral immune response magnitude, composition and efficacy of neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 are essential endpoints for these trials. Robust assays that are reproducibly precise, linear, and specific for SARS-CoV-2 antigens would be beneficial for the vaccine pipeline. In this work we describe the methodologies and clinical qualification of three SARS-CoV-2 endpoint assays. We developed and qualified Endpoint titer ELISAs for total IgG, IgG1, IgG3, IgG4, IgM and IgA to evaluate the magnitude of specific responses to the trimeric spike (S) antigen and total IgG specific to the spike receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2. We also qualified a pseudovirus neutralization assay which evaluates functional antibody titers capable of inhibiting the entry and replication of a lentivirus containing the Spike antigen of SARS-CoV-2. To complete the suite of assays we qualified a plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT) methodology using the 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 isolate of SARS-CoV-2 to assess neutralizing titers of antibodies in plasma from normal healthy donors and convalescent COVID-19 individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.02.450915DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8259906PMC
July 2021

Adjuvanting a subunit COVID-19 vaccine to induce protective immunity.

Nature 2021 06 19;594(7862):253-258. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Tulane National Primate Research Center, Covington, LA, USA.

The development of a portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines to vaccinate the global population remains an urgent public health imperative. Here we demonstrate the capacity of a subunit vaccine, comprising the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor-binding domain displayed on an I53-50 protein nanoparticle scaffold (hereafter designated RBD-NP), to stimulate robust and durable neutralizing-antibody responses and protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques. We evaluated five adjuvants including Essai O/W 1849101, a squalene-in-water emulsion; AS03, an α-tocopherol-containing oil-in-water emulsion; AS37, a Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonist adsorbed to alum; CpG1018-alum, a TLR9 agonist formulated in alum; and alum. RBD-NP immunization with AS03, CpG1018-alum, AS37 or alum induced substantial neutralizing-antibody and CD4 T cell responses, and conferred protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the pharynges, nares and bronchoalveolar lavage. The neutralizing-antibody response to live virus was maintained up to 180 days after vaccination with RBD-NP in AS03 (RBD-NP-AS03), and correlated with protection from infection. RBD-NP immunization cross-neutralized the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant efficiently but showed a reduced response against the B.1.351 variant. RBD-NP-AS03 produced a 4.5-fold reduction in neutralization of B.1.351 whereas the group immunized with RBD-NP-AS37 produced a 16-fold reduction in neutralization of B.1.351, suggesting differences in the breadth of the neutralizing-antibody response induced by these adjuvants. Furthermore, RBD-NP-AS03 was as immunogenic as a prefusion-stabilized spike immunogen (HexaPro) with AS03 adjuvant. These data highlight the efficacy of the adjuvanted RBD-NP vaccine in promoting protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and have led to phase I/II clinical trials of this vaccine (NCT04742738 and NCT04750343).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03530-2DOI Listing
June 2021

Elicitation of broadly protective sarbecovirus immunity by receptor-binding domain nanoparticle vaccines.

bioRxiv 2021 Mar 16. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Understanding the ability of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-elicited antibodies to neutralize and protect against emerging variants of concern and other sarbecoviruses is key for guiding vaccine development decisions and public health policies. We show that a clinical stage multivalent SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain nanoparticle vaccine (SARS-CoV-2 RBD-NP) protects mice from SARS-CoV-2-induced disease after a single shot, indicating that the vaccine could allow dose-sparing. SARS-CoV-2 RBD-NP elicits high antibody titers in two non-human primate (NHP) models against multiple distinct RBD antigenic sites known to be recognized by neutralizing antibodies. We benchmarked NHP serum neutralizing activity elicited by RBD-NP against a lead prefusion-stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike immunogen using a panel of single-residue spike mutants detected in clinical isolates as well as the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants of concern. Polyclonal antibodies elicited by both vaccines are resilient to most RBD mutations tested, but the E484K substitution has similar negative consequences for neutralization, and exhibit modest but comparable neutralization breadth against distantly related sarbecoviruses. We demonstrate that mosaic and cocktail sarbecovirus RBD-NPs elicit broad sarbecovirus neutralizing activity, including against the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 variant, and protect mice against severe SARS-CoV challenge even in the absence of the SARS-CoV RBD in the vaccine. This study provides proof of principle that sarbecovirus RBD-NPs induce heterotypic protection and enables advancement of broadly protective sarbecovirus vaccines to the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.15.435528DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7986998PMC
March 2021

Adjuvanting a subunit SARS-CoV-2 nanoparticle vaccine to induce protective immunity in non-human primates.

bioRxiv 2021 Feb 11. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

The development of a portfolio of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to vaccinate the global population remains an urgent public health imperative. Here, we demonstrate the capacity of a subunit vaccine under clinical development, comprising the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein receptor-binding domain displayed on a two-component protein nanoparticle (RBD-NP), to stimulate robust and durable neutralizing antibody (nAb) responses and protection against SARS-CoV-2 in non-human primates. We evaluated five different adjuvants combined with RBD-NP including Essai O/W 1849101, a squalene-in-water emulsion; AS03, an alpha-tocopherol-containing squalene-based oil-in-water emulsion used in pandemic influenza vaccines; AS37, a TLR-7 agonist adsorbed to Alum; CpG 1018-Alum (CpG-Alum), a TLR-9 agonist formulated in Alum; or Alum, the most widely used adjuvant. All five adjuvants induced substantial nAb and CD4 T cell responses after two consecutive immunizations. Durable nAb responses were evaluated for RBD-NP/AS03 immunization and the live-virus nAb response was durably maintained up to 154 days post-vaccination. AS03, CpG-Alum, AS37 and Alum groups conferred significant protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the pharynges, nares and in the bronchoalveolar lavage. The nAb titers were highly correlated with protection against infection. Furthermore, RBD-NP when used in conjunction with AS03 was as potent as the prefusion stabilized Spike immunogen, HexaPro. Taken together, these data highlight the efficacy of the RBD-NP formulated with clinically relevant adjuvants in promoting robust immunity against SARS-CoV-2 in non-human primates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.10.430696DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7885918PMC
February 2021

Elicitation of Potent Neutralizing Antibody Responses by Designed Protein Nanoparticle Vaccines for SARS-CoV-2.

Cell 2020 11 31;183(5):1367-1382.e17. Epub 2020 Oct 31.

Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA.

A safe, effective, and scalable vaccine is needed to halt the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We describe the structure-based design of self-assembling protein nanoparticle immunogens that elicit potent and protective antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 in mice. The nanoparticle vaccines display 60 SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domains (RBDs) in a highly immunogenic array and induce neutralizing antibody titers 10-fold higher than the prefusion-stabilized spike despite a 5-fold lower dose. Antibodies elicited by the RBD nanoparticles target multiple distinct epitopes, suggesting they may not be easily susceptible to escape mutations, and exhibit a lower binding:neutralizing ratio than convalescent human sera, which may minimize the risk of vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory disease. The high yield and stability of the assembled nanoparticles suggest that manufacture of the nanoparticle vaccines will be highly scalable. These results highlight the utility of robust antigen display platforms and have launched cGMP manufacturing efforts to advance the SARS-CoV-2-RBD nanoparticle vaccine into the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.043DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7604136PMC
November 2020

Elicitation of potent neutralizing antibody responses by designed protein nanoparticle vaccines for SARS-CoV-2.

bioRxiv 2020 Aug 12. Epub 2020 Aug 12.

Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.

A safe, effective, and scalable vaccine is urgently needed to halt the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Here, we describe the structure-based design of self-assembling protein nanoparticle immunogens that elicit potent and protective antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 in mice. The nanoparticle vaccines display 60 copies of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein receptor-binding domain (RBD) in a highly immunogenic array and induce neutralizing antibody titers roughly ten-fold higher than the prefusion-stabilized S ectodomain trimer despite a more than five-fold lower dose. Antibodies elicited by the nanoparticle immunogens target multiple distinct epitopes on the RBD, suggesting that they may not be easily susceptible to escape mutations, and exhibit a significantly lower binding:neutralizing ratio than convalescent human sera, which may minimize the risk of vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory disease. The high yield and stability of the protein components and assembled nanoparticles, especially compared to the SARS-CoV-2 prefusion-stabilized S trimer, suggest that manufacture of the nanoparticle vaccines will be highly scalable. These results highlight the utility of robust antigen display platforms for inducing potent neutralizing antibody responses and have launched cGMP manufacturing efforts to advance the lead RBD nanoparticle vaccine into the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.11.247395DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7430571PMC
August 2020
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