Diagnostic Method to Enable Fast and Accurate Detection of Ebola Virus

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for sensitive diagnostic platforms and novel biomarkers. EBOV soluble glycoprotein (sGP) represents a unique and powerful biomarker for the detection of EBOV infection and EVD prognosis for several reasons. The presence of sGP in the blood prior to, or simultaneously with, PCR-based assays improves the diagnostic window. As previously noted, survival outcomes from EBOV infection depend critically on the initiation of supportive measures, which heavily rely on accurate diagnoses in resource-limited settings. Rapid diagnosis facilitates faster treatment initiation, thereby improving patient outcomes (Chertow et al., 2014Feldmann and Geisbert, 2011Fowler et al., 2014). Quarantine of affected individuals has profound implications in infection and outbreak management and prevention. Alternatively, a confirmation of a negative test allows for healthcare providers to efficiently leverage their resources in treating patients. Because sGP is a protein biomarker, there is flexibility in the assay designs that can be used with the biomarker (e.g., lateral flow assays). The NHP study suggests that levels

IBT and collabortors describe a rapid and sensitive diagnostic for EVD through microring resonator sensors in conjunction with a unique biomarker of EBOV infection, soluble glycoprotein (sGP). Microring resonator sensors detected sGP in under 40 min with a limit of detection (LOD) as low as 1.00 ng/mL in serum. Furthermore, we validated our assay with the detection of sGP in serum from EBOV-infected non-human primates.


07.28. 2022|

Therapy for Argentine hemorrhagic fever in nonhuman primates with a humanized monoclonal antibody

The COVID-19 pandemic has reemphasized the need to identify safe and scalable therapeutics to slow or reverse symptoms of disease caused by newly emerging and reemerging viral pathogens. Recent clinical successes of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in therapy for viral infections demonstrate that mAbs offer a solution for these emerging biothreats. We have explored this with respect to Junin virus (JUNV), an arenavirus classified as a category A high-priority agent and the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever (AHF). There are currently no Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs available for preventing or treating AHF, although immune plasma from convalescent patients is used routinely to treat active infections. However, immune plasma is severely limited in quantity, highly variable in quality, and poses significant safety risks including the transmission of transfusion-borne diseases. mAbs offer a highly specific and consistently potent alternative to immune plasma that can be manufactured at large scale. We previously described a chimeric mAb, cJ199, that provided protection in a guinea pig model of AHF. To adapt this mAb to a format more suitable for clinical use, we humanized the mAb (hu199) and evaluated it in a cynomolgus monkey model of AHF with two JUNV isolates, Romero and Espindola. While untreated control animals experienced 100% lethality, all animals treated with hu199 at 6 d postinoculation (dpi) survived, and 50% of animals treated at 8 dpi survived. mAbs like hu199 may offer a safer, scalable, and more reproducible alternative to immune plasma for rare viral diseases that have epidemic potential.


03.16. 2021|

IBT-V02: A Multicomponent Toxoid Vaccine Protects Against Primary and Secondary Skin Infections Caused by Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus causes a wide range of diseases from skin infections to life threatening invasive diseases such as bacteremia, endocarditis, pneumonia, surgical site infections, and osteomyelitis. Skin infections such as furuncles, carbuncles, folliculitis, erysipelas, and cellulitis constitute a large majority of infections caused by S. aureus (SA). These infections cause significant morbidity, healthcare costs, and represent a breeding ground for antimicrobial resistance. Furthermore, skin infection with SA is a major risk factor for invasive disease. Here we describe the pre-clinical efficacy of a multicomponent toxoid vaccine (IBT-V02) for prevention of S. aureus acute skin infections and recurrence. IBT-V02 targets six SA toxins including the pore-forming toxins alpha hemolysin (Hla), Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), leukocidin AB (LukAB), and the superantigens toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 and staphylococcal enterotoxins A and B. Immunization of mice and rabbits with IBT-V02 generated antibodies with strong neutralizing activity against toxins included in the vaccine, as well as cross-neutralizing activity against multiple related toxins, and protected against skin infections by several clinically relevant SA strains of USA100, USA300, and USA1000 clones. Efficacy of the vaccine was also shown in non-naïve mice pre-exposed to S. aureus. Furthermore, vaccination with IBT-V02 not only protected mice from a primary infection but also demonstrated lasting efficacy against a secondary infection, while prior challenge with the bacteria alone was unable to protect against recurrence. Serum transfer studies in a primary infection model showed that antibodies are primarily responsible for the protective response.



03.10. 2021|

Safety and Immunogenicity of a 4-Component Toxoid-Based Staphylococcus aureus Vaccine in Rhesus Macaques

Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of significant morbidity and mortality and an enormous economic burden to public health worldwide. Infections caused by methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) pose a major threat as MRSA strains are becoming increasingly prevalent and multi-drug resistant. To this date, vaccines targeting surface-bound antigens demonstrated promising results in preclinical testing but have failed in clinical trials. S. aureus pathogenesis is in large part driven by immune destructive and immune-modulating toxins and thus represent promising vaccine targets. Hence, the objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a staphylococcal 4-component vaccine targeting secreted bi-component pore-forming toxins (BCPFTs) and superantigens (SAgs) in non-human primates (NHPs). The 4-component vaccine proved to be safe, even when repeated vaccinations were given at a dose that is 5 to 10- fold higher than the proposed human dose. Vaccinated rhesus macaques did not exhibit clinical signs, weight loss, or changes in hematology or serum chemistry parameters related to the administration of the vaccine. No acute, vaccine-related elevation of serum cytokine levels was observed after vaccine administration, confirming the toxoid components lacked superantigenicity. Immunized animals demonstrated high level of toxin-specific total and neutralizing antibodies toward target antigens of the 4-component vaccine as well as cross-neutralizing activity toward staphylococcal BCPFTs and SAgs that are not direct targets of the vaccine. Cross-neutralization was also observed toward the heterologous streptococcal pyogenic exotoxin B. Ex vivo stimulation of PBMCs with individual vaccine components demonstrated an overall increase in several T cell cytokines measured in supernatants. Immunophenotyping of CD4 T cells ex vivo showed an increase in Ag-specific polyfunctional CD4 T cells in response to antigen stimulation. Taken together, we demonstrate that the 4-component vaccine is well-tolerated and immunogenic in NHPs generating both humoral and cellular immune responses. Targeting secreted toxin antigens could be the next-generation vaccine approach for staphylococcal vaccines if also proven to provide efficacy in humans.



02.25. 2021|

Prominent Neutralizing Antibody Response Targeting the Ebolavirus Glycoprotein Subunit Interface Elicited by Immunization

The severe death toll caused by the recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease reinforces the importance of developing ebolavirus prevention and treatment strategies. Here, we have explored the immunogenicity of a novel immunization regimen priming with vesicular stomatitis virus particles bearing Sudan Ebola virus (SUDV) glycoprotein (GP) that consists of GP1 & GP2 subunits and boosting with soluble SUDV GP in macaques, which developed robust neutralizing antibody (nAb) responses following immunizations. Moreover, EB46, a protective nAb isolated from one of the immune macaques, is found to target the GP1/GP2 interface, with GP-binding mode and neutralization mechanism similar to a number of ebolavirus nAbs from human and mouse, indicating that the ebolavirus GP1/GP2 interface is a common immunological target in different species. Importantly, selected immune macaque polyclonal sera showed nAb specificity similar to EB46 at substantial titers, suggesting that the GP1/GP2 interface region is a viable target for ebolavirus vaccine. Importance: The elicitation of sustained neutralizing antibody (nAb) responses against diverse ebolavirus strains remains as a high priority for the vaccine field. The most clinically advanced rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine could elicit moderate nAb responses against only one ebolavirus strain, EBOV, among the five ebolavirus strains, which last less than 6 months. Boost immunization strategies are desirable to effectively recall the rVSV vector-primed nAb responses to prevent infections in prospective epidemics, while an in-depth understanding of the specificity of immunization-elicited nAb responses is essential for improving vaccine performance. Here, using non-human primate animal model, we demonstrated that booster immunization with a stabilized trimeric soluble form of recombinant glycoprotein derived from the ebolavirus Sudan strain following the priming rVSV vector immunization led to robust nAb responses that substantially map to the subunit interface of ebolavirus glycoprotein, a common B cell repertoire target of multiple species including primates and rodents.



02.03. 2021|

Pan-ebolavirus and Pan-filovirus Mouse Monoclonal Antibodies: Protection against Ebola and Sudan Viruses

Here, we describe monoclonal antibodies with cross-reactivity to several filoviruses, including the first report of a cross-neutralizing antibody that exhibits protection against Ebola virus and Sudan virus in mice. Our results further describe a novel combination of antibodies with enhanced protective efficacy. These results form a basis for further development of effective immunotherapeutics against filoviruses for human use.

Holtsberg et al., J Virol, 2014


08.05. 2020|

Efficacy of Active Immunization With Attenuated α-Hemolysin and Panton-Valentine Leukocidin in a Rabbit Model of Staphylococcus aureus Necrotizing Pneumonia

Staphylococcus aureus is a common pathogen causing infections in humans with various degrees of severity, with pneumonia being one of the most severe infections. In as much as staphylococcal pneumonia is a disease driven in large part by α-hemolysin (Hla) and Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), we evaluated whether active immunization with attenuated forms of Hla (HlaH35L/H48L) alone, PVL components (LukS-PVT28F/K97A/S209A and LukF-PVK102A) alone, or combination of all 3 toxoids could prevent lethal challenge in a rabbit model of necrotizing pneumonia caused by the USA300 community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). Rabbits vaccinated with Hla toxoid alone or PVL components alone were only partially protected against lethal pneumonia, whereas those vaccinated with all 3 toxoids had 100% protection against lethality. Vaccine-mediated protection correlated with induction of polyclonal antibody response that neutralized not only α-hemolysin and PVL, but also other related toxins, produced by USA300 and other epidemic MRSA clones.



01.02. 2020|

Human monoclonal antibodies against chikungunya virus target multiple distinct epitopes in the E1 and E2 glycoproteins

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-transmitted alphavirus that causes persistent arthritis in a subset of human patients. We report the isolation and functional characterization of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from two patients infected with CHIKV in the Dominican Republic. Single B cell sorting yielded a panel of 46 human mAbs of diverse germline lineages that targeted epitopes within the E1 or E2 glycoproteins. MAbs that recognized either E1 or E2 proteins exhibited neutralizing activity. Viral escape mutations localized the binding epitopes for two E1 mAbs to sites within domain I or the linker between domains I and III; and for two E2 mAbs between the β-connector region and the B-domain. Two of the E2-specific mAbs conferred protection in vivo in a stringent lethal challenge mouse model of CHIKV infection, whereas the E1 mAbs did not. These results provide insight into human antibody response to CHIKV and identify candidate mAbs for therapeutic intervention.



11.07. 2019|

Rational Design of Toxoid Vaccine Candidates for Staphylococcus aureus Leukocidin AB (LukAB)

Staphylococcus aureus (SA) infections cause high mortality and morbidity in humans. Being central to its pathogenesis, S. aureus thwarts the host defense by secreting a myriad of virulence factors, including bicomponent, pore-forming leukotoxins. While all vaccine development efforts that aimed at achieving opsonophagocytic killing have failed, targeting virulence by toxoid vaccines represents a novel approach to preventing mortality and morbidity that are caused by SA. The recently discovered leukotoxin LukAB kills human phagocytes and monocytes and it is present in all known S. aureus clinical isolates. While using a structure-guided approach, we generated a library of mutations that targeted functional domains within the LukAB heterodimer to identify attenuated toxoids as potential vaccine candidates. The mutants were evaluated based on expression, solubility, yield, biophysical properties, cytotoxicity, and immunogenicity, and several fully attenuated LukAB toxoids that were capable of eliciting high neutralizing antibody titers were identified. Rabbit polyclonal antibodies against the lead toxoid candidate provided potent neutralization of LukAB. While the neutralization of LukAB alone was not sufficient to fully suppress leukotoxicity in supernatants of S. aureus USA300 isolates, a combination of antibodies against LukAB, α-toxin, and Panton-Valentine leukocidin completely neutralized the cytotoxicity of these strains. These data strongly support the inclusion of LukAB toxoids in a multivalent toxoid vaccine for the prevention of S. aureus disease.



06.14. 2019|
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