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.
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