Investigation of Pre-clinical and clinical results against SARS-COV-2 wild-type and Alpha variants combination of VLP-58-1023-AL-K3 vaccine

Gürsel, İhsan
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Bilkent University
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The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which first appeared in Wuhan, China and had a pandemic effect at the end of 2019, has urgently created need of suitable vaccine candidates’ development with its quick spread. Scientists in different laboratories from all over the world, including Turkey, have started the studies of vaccine development with different methods based on the basic proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Most of these vaccines are based on the Spike protein, which allows the virus to enter the host and survive. Although the Spike protein, which has high antigenic properties and contains the RBD region to bind ACE2 receptor in the host, is effective in the formation of neutralizing antibodies in the person, the virus essentially has 4 structural proteins, not only spike. Our vaccine strategy containing virus-like particles (VLP) was based on the self-assembly property of Spike, Membrane, Envelope and Nucleocapsid proteins, and these protein structures were transformed into plasmids with his-tag labels, and the products were collected in mammalian cells in vitro by the transfection method. VLPs were purified by affinity chromatography and formulated with 2 different adjuvants which are Alum and CpG. Since the virus, which has changed rapidly in the last 2 years, is open to new mutations over spreading, it is very important that our vaccine should be editable and adaptable to new virus variants. Due to the alpha variant effect in the world, which was first seen in the UK and has become widespread all over the world recent years, WT VLP formed with a more stable Spike protein containing a thermostable sub-proline (6p; HexaPro) mutation was used in the first dose of our vaccine, but UK VLP containing alpha variant mutations was used in the second dose. Alum and CpG adjuvants were used together for both injection formulations. Our vaccine has successfully completed Phase 2 studies. As a result of these studies, approximately 115 vaccinated volunteers were followed up for 90 days and immunological analyzes were performed with samples taken at certain day intervals (Day 21, Day 35, Day49 and Day90). As a result of these analyzes, moderate and high levels of neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibody responses were observed in many patients, and a humoral immune response was induced until day 90. In addition, it was observed that the cellular responses of the volunteers are progressed in tendency with the Th1 cell response.

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COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, VLP, Vaccine, CpG ODN, Alum
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