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DNA Vaccine Protection against SARS-CoV-2 in Rhesus Macaques

Published time: 20 May 2020

Authors: Jingyou Yu, Lisa H. Tostanoski, Lauren Peter, Noe B. Mercado, Katherine McMahan, Shant H. Mahrokhian, Joseph P. Nkolola, Jinyan Liu, Zhenfeng Li, Abishek Chandrashekar, David R. Martinez, Carolin Loos, Caroline Atyeo, Stephanie Fischinger, John S. Burke, Matthew D. Slein, Yuezhou Chen, Adam Zuiani, Felipe J. N. Lelis, Meghan Travers, Shaghayegh Habibi, Laurent Pessaint, Alex Van Ry, Kelvin Blade, Renita Brown, Anthony Cook, Brad Finneyfrock, Alan Dodson, Elyse Teow, Jason Velasco, Roland Zahn, Frank Wegmann, Esther A. Bondzie, Gabriel Dagotto, Makda S. Gebre, Xuan He, Catherine Jacob-Dolan, Marinela Kirilova, Nicole Kordana, Zijin Lin, Lori F. Maxfield, Felix Nampanya, Ramya Nityanandam, John D. Ventura, Huahua Wan, Yongfei Cai, Bing Chen, Aaron G. Schmidt, Duane R. Wesemann, Ralph S. Baric, Galit Alter, Hanne Andersen, Mark G. Lewis, Dan H. Barouch


The global COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has made the development of a vaccine a top biomedical priority. In this study, we developed a series of DNA vaccine candidates expressing different forms of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein and evaluated them in 35 rhesus macaques. Vaccinated animals developed humoral and cellular immune responses, including neutralizing antibody titers comparable to those found in convalescent humans and macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2. Following vaccination, all animals were challenged with SARS-CoV-2, and the vaccine encoding the full-length S protein resulted in >3.1 and >3.7 log10 reductions in median viral loads in bronchoalveolar lavage and nasal mucosa, respectively, as compared with sham controls. Vaccine-elicited neutralizing antibody titers correlated with protective efficacy, suggesting an immune correlate of protection. These data demonstrate vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 in nonhuman primates.

DNA vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques



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