The development of a safe and effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is a public health priority. We designed subunit vaccine candidates using self-assembling ferritin nanoparticles displaying one of two multimerized SARS-CoV-2 spikes: full-length ectodomain (S-Fer) or a C-terminal 70 amino-acid deletion (SΔC-Fer). Ferritin is an attractive nanoparticle platform for production of vaccines, and ferritin-based vaccines have been investigated in humans in two separate clinical trials. We confirmed proper folding and antigenicity of spike on the surface of ferritin by cryo-EM and binding to conformation-specific monoclonal antibodies. After a single immunization of mice with either of the two spike ferritin particles, a lentiviral SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus assay revealed mean neutralizing antibody titers at least 2-fold greater than those in convalescent plasma from COVID-19 patients. Additionally, a single dose of SΔC-Fer elicited significantly higher neutralizing responses as compared to immunization with the spike receptor binding domain (RBD) monomer or spike ectodomain trimer alone. After a second dose, mice immunized with SΔC-Fer exhibited higher neutralizing titers than all other groups. Taken together, these results demonstrate that multivalent presentation of SARS-CoV-2 spike on ferritin can notably enhance elicitation of neutralizing antibodies, thus constituting a viable strategy for single-dose vaccination against COVID-19.
Read full study – https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acscentsci.0c01405