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Interim Results of a Phase 1-2a Trial of Ad26.COV2.S Covid-19 Vaccine

N Engl J Med

2021 Stephen DeRosa; Julie McElrath; Kristen Cohen

BACKGROUND: Efficacious vaccines are urgently needed to contain the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). A candidate vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S, is a recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26) vector encoding a full-length and stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. METHODS: In this multicenter, placebo-controlled, phase 1-2a trial, we randomly assigned healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55 years (cohort 1) and those 65 years of age or older (cohort 3) to receive the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine at a dose of 51010 viral particles (low dose) or 11011 viral particles (high dose) per milliliter or placebo in a single-dose or two-dose schedule. Longer-term data comparing a single-dose regimen with a two-dose regimen are being collected in cohort 2; those results are not reported here. The primary end points were the safety and reactogenicity of each dose schedule. RESULTS: After the administration of the first vaccine dose in 805 participants in cohorts 1 and 3 and after the second dose in cohort 1, the most frequent solicited adverse events were fatigue, headache, myalgia, and injection-site pain. The most frequent systemic adverse event was fever. Systemic adverse events were less common in cohort 3 than in cohort 1 and in those who received the low vaccine dose than in those who received the high dose. Reactogenicity was lower after the second dose. Neutralizing-antibody titers against wild-type virus were detected in 90% or more of all participants on day 29 after the first vaccine dose (geometric mean titer [GMT], 224 to 354) and reached 100% by day 57 with a further increase in titers (GMT, 288 to 488), regardless of vaccine dose or age group. Titers remained stable until at least day 71. A second dose provided an increase in the titer by a factor of 2.6 to 2.9 (GMT, 827 to 1266). Spike-binding antibody responses were similar to neutralizing-antibody responses. On day 14, CD4+ T-cell responses were detected in 76 to 83% of the participants in cohort 1 and in 60 to 67% of those in cohort 3, with a clear skewing toward type 1 helper T cells. CD8+ T-cell responses were robust overall but lower in cohort 3. CONCLUSIONS: The safety and immunogenicity profiles of Ad26.COV2.S support further development of this vaccine candidate. (Funded by Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the Department of Health and Human Services; COV1001 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04436276.).

Tissue-resident CD4+ T helper cells assist the development of protective respiratory B and CD8+ T cell memory responses

Sci Immunol

2021 Justin Taylor

Much remains unknown about the roles of CD4+ T helper cells in shaping localized memory B cell and CD8+ T cell immunity in the mucosal tissues. Here, we report that lung T helper cells provide local assistance for the optimal development of tissue-resident memory B and CD8+ T cells after the resolution of primary influenza virus infection. We have identified a population of T cells in the lung that exhibit characteristics of both follicular T helper and TRM cells, and we have termed these cells as resident helper T (TRH) cells. Optimal TRH cell formation was dependent on transcription factors involved in T follicular helper and resident memory T cell development including BCL6 and Bhlhe40. We show that TRH cells deliver local help to CD8+ T cells through IL-21-dependent mechanisms. Our data have uncovered the presence of a tissue-resident helper T cell population in the lung that plays a critical role in promoting the development of protective B cell and CD8+ T cell responses.

Human Tissue-Resident Memory T Cells in the Maternal-Fetal Interface. Lost Soldiers or Special Forces?


2020 Caitlin DeJong; Nicholas Maurice; Martin Prlic

The immune system plays a critical role during pregnancy, but the specific mechanisms and immune cell function needed to support pregnancy remain incompletely understood. Despite decades of research efforts, it is still unclear how the immune system maintains tolerance of fetal-derived tissues, which include most cells of the placenta and of course the fetus itself, without forfeiting the ability to protect against harmful infections. T cells recognize antigen in the context of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) encoded proteins, but classical MHC class I and II expression are diminished in fetal-derived cells. Can T cells present at the maternal-fetal interface (MFI) protect these cells from infection? Here we review what is known in regard to tissue-resident memory T (Trm) cells at the MFI. We mainly focus on how Trm cells can contribute to protection in the context of the unique features of the MFI, such as limited MHC expression as well as the temporary nature of the MFI, that are not found in other tissues.

Sexual Behavior and Sexually Transmitted Infection Outcomes Among Men Who Have Sex With Men and Transgender Women Participating in a Study of the Timing of Antiretroviral Therapy in Lima, Peru

Sex Transm Dis

2020 Ann Duerr

BACKGROUND: We assessed sexual behavior and incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among men who have sex with men and transgender women participating in Sabes, a study of an expanded treatment as prevention strategy focused on early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection in Lima, Peru (2013-2017). METHODS: Sabes participants were tested monthly for HIV to identify acute or early infections, and HIV-positive participants were randomized to receive antiretroviral therapy immediately (immediate arm) or after 24 weeks (deferred arm) during a 48-week follow-up period. Sexual behavior was assessed at randomization (baseline) and every 12 weeks thereafter. Participants were tested for urethral and rectal chlamydia and gonorrhea and for syphilis at baseline, 12, 24, and 48 weeks. We describe patterns of sexual behavior during the 48-week follow-up period and compare sexual behavior and STI incidence between study arms. RESULTS: After randomization, 207 HIV-positive participants completed questionnaires and STI testing at 2 or more visits. After HIV diagnosis, participants in both arms reported increases in condom use with main and casual partners and decreased drug and alcohol use before or during anal sex. We observed no between-arm differences in sexual behavior. Deferred arm participants had higher incidence of chlamydia (incidence rate ratio, 2.33; 95% confidence interval, 1.14-4.77) but not gonorrhea or syphilis. CONCLUSIONS: Despite reported increases in condom use, the overall high incidence of STIs reflects some ongoing condomless sex among HIV-positive men who have sex with men and transgender women, highlighting the importance of regular STI screening and counseling to support consistent condom use among HIV-positive individuals at risk for STIs.

Antibody Binding to SARS-CoV-2 S Glycoprotein Correlates with but Does Not Predict Neutralization


2020 Marie Pancera; Andrew McGuire; Leonidas Stamatatos

Convalescent plasma from SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals and monoclonal antibodies were shown to potently neutralize viral and pseudoviral particles carrying the S glycoprotein. However, a non-negligent proportion of plasma samples from infected individuals, as well as S-specific monoclonal antibodies, were reported to be non-neutralizing despite efficient interaction with the S glycoprotein in different biochemical assays using soluble recombinant forms of S or when expressed at the cell surface. How neutralization relates to the binding of S glycoprotein in the context of viral particles remains to be established. Here, we developed a pseudovirus capture assay (VCA) to measure the capacity of plasma samples or antibodies immobilized on ELISA plates to bind to membrane-bound S glycoproteins from SARS-CoV-2 expressed at the surface of lentiviral particles. By performing VCA, ELISA, and neutralization assays, we observed a strong correlation between these parameters. However, while we found that plasma samples unable to capture viral particles did not neutralize, capture did not guarantee neutralization, indicating that the capacity of antibodies to bind to the S glycoprotein at the surface of pseudoviral particles is required but not sufficient to mediate neutralization. Altogether, our results highlight the importance of better understanding the inactivation of S by plasma and neutralizing antibodies.

Maternal Epstein-Barr virus-specific antibodies and risk of infection in Ugandan infants

J Infect Dis

2020 Corey Casper; Andrew McGuire; Anton Sholukh; Abigail Wall; Soren Gantt; Elizabeth Krantz; Jackson Orem; Meei-Li Huang

BACKGROUND: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is a major cause of malignancy worldwide. Maternal antibody is thought to prevent EBV infection because it is uncommon in early infancy. Maternal HIV infection is associated with an increased incidence of EBV infection in exposed infants, which we hypothesized results from impaired transfer of EBV-neutralizing maternal antibodies. METHODS: Among Ugandan infants followed for EBV acquisition from birth, we measured antibody binding to EBV glycoproteins (e.g., gp350, gH/gL) involved in B cell and epithelial cell entry, as well as viral neutralization and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) activity in plasma samples prior to infection. These serologic data were analyzed for differences between HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) and unexposed (HUU) infants, and for associations with incident infant EBV infection. RESULTS: HEU infants had significantly higher titers than HUU infants for all EBV-binding and neutralizing antibodies measured (p<0.01), but not ADCC activity, which was similar between groups. No antibody measure was associated with a decreased risk of EBV acquisition in the cohort. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that in this cohort maternal antibody did not protect infants against EBV infection through viral neutralization. The identification of protective non-neutralizing antibody functions would be invaluable for the development of an EBV vaccine.

Use of adenovirus type-5 vectored vaccines: a cautionary tale


2020 Larry Corey; Julie McElrath


Generation of a cost-effective cell line for support of high-throughput isolation of primary human B cells and monoclonal neutralizing antibodies

J Immunol Methods

2021 Julie McElrath; Tanvi Arkatkar; Joseph Carter; Andrew McGuire; Aaron Seese; David Rawlings; Kristen Cohen; Sarah Ameny; Rachael Nelson; Denise Galloway; Abigail Wall

The isolation of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) arising from natural infection with human pathogens has proven to be a powerful technology, facilitating the understanding of the host response to infection at a molecular level. mAbs can reveal sites of vulnerability on pathogens and illuminate the biological function of the antigenic targets. Moreover, mAbs have the potential to be used directly for therapeutic applications such as passive delivery to prevent infection in susceptible target populations, and as treatment of established infection. The isolation of antigen-specific B cells from vaccine trials can also assist in deciphering whether the desired B cells are being targeted by a given vaccine. Several different processes have been developed to isolate mAbs, but all are generally labor-intensive and result in varying degrees of efficiency. Here, we describe the development of a cost-effective feeder cell line that stably expresses CD40-ligand, interleukin-2 and interleukin-21. Sorting of single B cells onto a layer of irradiated feeder cells sustained antibody production that permits functional screening of secreted antibodies in a manner that enables subsequent recovery of B cells for recombinant antibody cloning. As a proof of concept, we show that this approach can be used to isolate B cells that secrete antibodies that neutralize human papilloma virus (HPV) from participants of an HPV vaccine study.

Antimalarial antibody repertoire defined by plasma IG proteomics and single B cell IG sequencing

JCI Insight

2020 Justin Taylor

Plasma antimalarial antibody can mediate anti-parasite immunity but has not previously been characterized at the molecular level. Here, we develop an innovative strategy to characterize humoral responses by integrating profiles of plasma immunoglobulins (IG) or antibodies with those expressed on B cells as part of BcR. We applied this strategy to define plasma IG and determine variable V gene usage after vaccination with the Plasmodium falciparum zygote antigen Pfs25. First, using proteomic tools coupled with bulk immunosequencing data, we determined human F(ab')2 peptide sequences from plasma IG of adults who received four doses of Pfs25-EPA/Alhydrogel. Specifically, Pfs25 antigen-specific F(ab')2 peptides (Pfs25-IG) were aligned to cDNA sequences of IGH complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3) from a dataset generated by total peripheral B cell immunosequencing of the entire vaccinated population. IGHV4 was the most commonly identified IGHV subgroup of Pfs25-IG, a pattern that was corroborated by VH/VL sequencing of Pfs25-specific single B cells from five vaccinees and by matching plasma Pfs25-IG peptides and V-(D)-J sequences of Pfs25-specific single B cells from the same donor. Among 13 recombinant human mAbs generated from IG sequences of Pfs25-specific single B cells, a single IGHV4 mAb displayed strong neutralizing activity, reducing the number of P. falciparum oocysts in infected mosquitoes by more than 80% at 100 μg/mL. Our approach characterizes the human plasma antibody repertoire in response to the Pfs25-EPA/Alhydrogel vaccine and will be useful to study circulating antibodies in response to other vaccines as well as those induced during infections or autoimmune disorders.

HIV-1 VRC01 Germline-Targeting Immunogens Select Distinct Epitope-Specific B Cell Receptors


2020 Arineh Khechaduri; Marie Pancera; Leonidas Stamatatos; Andrew Riker; Andrew Stuart; Connor Weidle; Parul Agrawal; Katherine Parks; Brittany Takushi; Matthew Gray; Yu-Ru Lin

Activating precursor B cell receptors of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies requires specifically designed immunogens. Here, we compared the abilities of three such germline-targeting immunogens against the VRC01-class receptors to activate the targeted B cells in transgenic mice expressing the germline VH of the VRC01 antibody but diverse mouse light chains. Immunogen-specific VRC01-like B cells were isolated at different time points after immunization, their VH and VL genes were sequenced, and the corresponding antibodies characterized. VRC01 B cell sub-populations with distinct cross-reactivity properties were activated by each immunogen, and these differences correlated with distinct biophysical and biochemical features of the germline-targeting immunogens. Our study indicates that the design of effective immunogens to activate B cell receptors leading to protective HIV-1 antibodies will require a better understanding of how the biophysical properties of the epitope and its surrounding surface on the germline-targeting immunogen influence its interaction with the available receptor variants in vivo.