Immunogenicity of High-Dose MVA-Based MERS Vaccine Candidate in Mice and Camels
Alharbi NK., Aljamaan F., Aljami HA., Alenazi MW., Albalawi H., Almasoud A., Alharthi FJ., Azhar EI., Barhoumi T., Bosaeed M., Gilbert SC., Hashem AM.
The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a zoonotic pathogen that can transmit from dromedary camels to humans, causing severe pneumonia, with a 35% mortality rate. Vaccine candidates have been developed and tested in mice, camels, and humans. Previously, we developed a vaccine based on the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) viral vector, encoding a full-length spike protein of MERS-CoV, MVA-MERS. Here, we report the immunogenicity of high-dose MVA-MERS in prime–boost vaccinations in mice and camels. Methods: Three groups of mice were immunised with MVA wild-type (MVA-wt) and MVA-MERS (MVA-wt/MVA-MERS), MVA-MERS/MVA-wt, or MVA-MERS/MVA-MERS. Camels were immunised with two doses of PBS, MVA-wt, or MVA-MERS. Antibody (Ab) responses were evaluated using ELISA and MERS pseudovirus neutralisation assays. Results: Two high doses of MVA-MERS induced strong Ab responses in both mice and camels, including neutralising antibodies. Anti-MVA Ab responses did not affect the immune responses to the vaccine antigen (MERS-CoV spike). Conclusions: MVA-MERS vaccine, administered in a homologous prime–boost regimen, induced high levels of neutralising anti-MERS-CoV antibodies in mice and camels. This could be considered for further development and evaluation as a dromedary vaccine to reduce MERS-CoV transmission to humans.