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NIH Licensing Opportunity: Prefusion Coronavirus Spike Proteins and Their Use

June 10, 2020

Coronaviruses (CoVs) can cause severe respiratory disease with high fatality rates in humans. In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and because other CoVs are poised to emerge as new human pathogens, there is an urgent need to define a general CoV vaccine solution.

NIAID researchers have developed a novel CoV spike (S) protein vaccine antigen that uses protein engineering to stabilize S in its prefusion conformation, preventing structural rearrangement, and exposing antigenically preferable surfaces. This technology has been applied to several CoV spikes, including those from human-relevant viruses such as HKU1-CoV, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV. Particularly for MERS-CoV, stabilized S proteins have been shown to elicit superior neutralizing antibody responses up to 10-fold higher in animal models and have protected mice against lethal MERS-CoV infection. This stabilized spike antigen technology could be delivered in various formats or platforms including nucleic acids (DNA, RNA) and viral vectors.

Read more at or contact Amy Petrik, Ph.D., 240-627-3721;

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