Immunogenicity and pre-clinical efficacy of an OMV-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine

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Abstract

The vaccination campaign against SARS-CoV-2 relies on the world-wide availability of effective vaccines, with a potential need of 20 billion vaccine doses to fully vaccinate the world population. To reach this goal, the manufacturing and logistic processes should be affordable to all countries, irrespective of economical and climatic conditions. Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are bacterial-derived vesicles that can be engineered to incorporate heterologous antigens. Given the inherent adjuvanticity, such modified OMVs can be used as vaccines to induce potent immune responses against the associated proteins. Here, we show that OMVs engineered to incorporate peptides derived from the receptor binding motif (RBM) of the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 elicit an effective immune response in vaccinated mice, resulting in the production of neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) with a titre higher than 1:300. The immunity induced by the vaccine is sufficient to protect the animals from intranasal challenge with SARS-CoV-2, preventing both virus replication in the lungs and the pathology associated with virus infection. Furthermore, we show that OMVs can be effectively decorated with the RBM of the Omicron BA.1 variant and that such engineered OMVs induce nAbs against Omicron BA.1 and BA.5, as measured using the pseudovirus neutralization infectivity assay. Importantly, we show that the RBM438-509 ancestral-OMVs elicited antibodies which efficiently neutralize in vitro both the homologous ancestral strain, the Omicron BA.1 and BA.5 variants with a neutralization titre ranging from 1:100 to 1:1500, suggesting its potential use as a vaccine targeting diverse SARS-CoV-2 variants. Altogether, given the convenience associated with the ease of engineering, production and distribution, our results demonstrate that OMV-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines can be a crucial addition to the vaccines currently available.

Journal details

Volume 11
Issue number 10
Pages 1546
Available online
Publication date