register interest

Professor Simon J Draper

Research Area: Immunology
Technology Exchange: Cellular immunology and Vaccine production and evaluation
Scientific Themes: Immunology & Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: Malaria, Vaccine, Immunology and Clinical Trials
Web Links:

My research interests include studies of vaccine-induced malaria immunity as well as the optimisation of antibody induction by subunit vaccines against the blood-stage of malaria infection.

In recent years, we have developed simian adenovirus (ChAd63) and MVA viral vectored vaccines targeting two major candidate antigens from the human malaria parasite P. falciparum (MSP1 and AMA1) and a leading candidate antigen (PvDBP) from P. vivax. We have demonstrated potent and effective T cell and antibody immunogenicity in preclinical models and have now translated these findings into a series of Phase I/IIa clinical vaccine trials funded by the MRC and EMVDA. The aims of this on-going clinical work are to assess the safety, immunogenicity and protective efficacy of these new vaccines in human volunteers. These studies provide an opportunity to better understand how vaccine-induced responses can protect against malaria infection in humans, and also how exposure to the parasite can modulate immunity. We have a particular interest in B cell clinical immunology and the identification of targets of antibody-mediated immunity. These studies of malaria-exposed volunteers in Oxford are also complemented by similar immunological studies in individuals who are naturally-exposed to malaria in Africa through our collaboration with the KEMRI-Wellcome Institute in Kilifi, Kenya.

More recently, our preclinical vaccine development work has focussed on the identification of improved antigen targets within the blood-stage merozoite parasite. We have established new protein vaccine production platforms that, along with viral vectored delivery, are enabling the generation of a whole new range of vaccines. To-date we have identified the PfRH5 antigen as the first reported target in the P. falciparum merozoite that is highly susceptible to broadly-neutralising vaccine-induced antibodies. This on-going programme of work is now aiming to define further antigens from the malaria genome and new target antigen combinations that should prove to be more successful in inducing protective efficacy against malaria by subunit vaccination in humans. In conjunction we are also undertaking studies to look at the utility of deploying protein-in-adjuvant and viral vectored vaccines in combination immunisation regimes, alongside research focusing on novel vaccine adjuvants. We are currently progressing viral vectored vaccines as well as a protein vaccine based on PfRH5 to Phase I/IIa clinical trials.

For a full list of publications click here.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Adrian VS Hill Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Kevin Marsh Tropical Medicine Oxford University, NDM Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Sumi Biswas Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Persephone Borrow NDM Research Building Oxford University, NDM Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Sarah C Gilbert Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Helen McShane Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Robert Sinden Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Dr Alfredo Nicosia Okairos Italy
Dr Chetan Chitnis International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology India
Dr Carole Long National Institutes of Health United States
Dr Anne Moore University College Cork Ireland
Dr Fergal Hill Imaxio France
Professor Faith Osier Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Willy Lescano US Naval Medical Research Unit - 6 Peru
Dr Charlotte Dyring ExpreS2ion Biotechnologies Denmark
Professor James McCarthy Malaria University of Queensland Australia
Prof Alexander (Hal) Drakesmith (RDM) Investigative Medicine Division Oxford University, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Matthew K Higgins Department of Biochemistry University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Robert E MacLaren Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Jonathan Peter University of Cape Town South Africa
Abdi AI, Hodgson SH, Muthui MK, Kivisi CA, Kamuyu G, Kimani D, Hoffman SL, Juma E, Ogutu B, Draper SJ et al. 2017. Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite var gene expression is modified by host antibodies: longitudinal evidence from controlled infections of Kenyan adults with varying natural exposure. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 585. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The PfEMP1 family of Plasmodium falciparum antigens play a key role in pathogenesis of severe malaria through their insertion into the surface of parasite infected erythrocytes, and adhesion to host cells. Previous studies have suggested that parasites expressing PfEMP1 subclasses group A and DC8, associated with severe malaria, may have a growth advantage in immunologically naïve individuals. However, this idea has not been tested in longitudinal studies. METHODS: Here we assessed expression of the var genes encoding PfEMP1, in parasites sampled from volunteers with varying prior exposure to malaria, following experimental infection by sporozoites (PfSPZ). Using qPCR, we tested for associations between the expression of various var subgroups in surviving parasite populations from each volunteer and 1) the levels of participants' antibodies to infected erythrocytes before challenge infection and 2) the apparent in vivo parasite multiplication rate. RESULTS: We show that 1) expression of var genes encoding for group A and DC8-like PfEMP1 were associated with low levels of antibodies to infected erythrocytes (αIE) before challenge, and 2) expression of a DC8-like CIDRα1.1 domain was associated with higher apparent parasite multiplication rate in a manner that was independent of levels of prior antibodies to infected erythrocytes. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides insight into the role of antibodies to infected erythrocytes surface antigens in the development of naturally acquired immunity and may help explain why specific PfEMP1 variants may be associated with severe malaria. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Pan African Clinical Trial Registry: PACTR201211000433272 . Date of registration: 10th October 2012.

Payne RO, Silk SE, Elias SC, Milne KH, Rawlinson TA, Llewellyn D, Shakri AR, Jin J, Labbé GM, Edwards NJ et al. 2017. Human vaccination against Plasmodium vivax Duffy-binding protein induces strain-transcending antibodies. JCI Insight, 2 (12), | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax is the most widespread human malaria geographically; however, no effective vaccine exists. Red blood cell invasion by the P. vivax merozoite depends on an interaction between the Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) and region II of the parasite's Duffy-binding protein (PvDBP_RII). Naturally acquired binding-inhibitory antibodies against this interaction associate with clinical immunity, but it is unknown whether these responses can be induced by human vaccination. METHODS: Safety and immunogenicity of replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) viral vectored vaccines targeting PvDBP_RII (Salvador I strain) were assessed in an open-label dose-escalation phase Ia study in 24 healthy UK adults. Vaccines were delivered by the intramuscular route in a ChAd63-MVA heterologous prime-boost regimen using an 8-week interval. RESULTS: Both vaccines were well tolerated and demonstrated a favorable safety profile in malaria-naive adults. PvDBP_RII-specific ex-vivo IFN-γ T cell, antibody-secreting cell, memory B cell, and serum IgG responses were observed after the MVA boost immunization. Vaccine-induced antibodies inhibited the binding of vaccine homologous and heterologous variants of recombinant PvDBP_RII to the DARC receptor, with median 50% binding-inhibition titers greater than 1:100. CONCLUSION: We have demonstrated for the first time to our knowledge that strain-transcending antibodies can be induced against the PvDBP_RII antigen by vaccination in humans. These vaccine candidates warrant further clinical evaluation of efficacy against the blood-stage P. vivax parasite. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01816113. FUNDING: Support was provided by the UK Medical Research Council, UK National Institute of Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, and the Wellcome Trust.

Jin J, Hjerrild KA, Silk SE, Brown RE, Labbé GM, Marshall JM, Wright KE, Bezemer S, Clemmensen SB, Biswas S et al. 2017. Accelerating the clinical development of protein-based vaccines for malaria by efficient purification using a four amino acid C-terminal 'C-tag'. Int J Parasitol, 47 (7), pp. 435-446. | Show Abstract | Read more

Development of bespoke biomanufacturing processes remains a critical bottleneck for translational studies, in particular when modest quantities of a novel product are required for proof-of-concept Phase I/II clinical trials. In these instances the ability to develop a biomanufacturing process quickly and relatively cheaply, without risk to product quality or safety, provides a great advantage by allowing new antigens or concepts in immunogen design to more rapidly enter human testing. These challenges with production and purification are particularly apparent when developing recombinant protein-based vaccines for difficult parasitic diseases, with Plasmodium falciparum malaria being a prime example. To that end, we have previously reported the expression of a novel protein vaccine for malaria using the ExpreS(2)Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 stable cell line system, however, a very low overall process yield (typically <5% recovery of hexa-histidine-tagged protein) meant the initial purification strategy was not suitable for scale-up and clinical biomanufacture of such a vaccine. Here we describe a newly available affinity purification method that was ideally suited to purification of the same protein which encodes the P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 - currently the leading antigen for assessment in next generation vaccines aiming to prevent red blood cell invasion by the blood-stage parasite. This purification system makes use of a C-terminal tag known as 'C-tag', composed of the four amino acids, glutamic acid - proline - glutamic acid - alanine (E-P-E-A), which is selectively purified on a CaptureSelect™ affinity resin coupled to a camelid single chain antibody, called NbSyn2. The C-terminal fusion of this short C-tag to P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 achieved >85% recovery and >70% purity in a single step purification directly from clarified, concentrated Schneider 2 cell supernatant under mild conditions. Biochemical and immunological analysis showed that the C-tagged and hexa-histidine-tagged P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 proteins are comparable. The C-tag technology has the potential to form the basis of a current good manufacturing practice-compliant platform, which could greatly improve the speed and ease with which novel protein-based products progress to clinical testing.

Campeotto I, Goldenzweig A, Davey J, Barfod L, Marshall JM, Silk SE, Wright KE, Draper SJ, Higgins MK, Fleishman SJ. 2017. One-step design of a stable variant of the malaria invasion protein RH5 for use as a vaccine immunogen. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114 (5), pp. 998-1002. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many promising vaccine candidates from pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and parasites are unstable and cannot be produced cheaply for clinical use. For instance, Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) is essential for erythrocyte invasion, is highly conserved among field isolates, and elicits antibodies that neutralize in vitro and protect in an animal model, making it a leading malaria vaccine candidate. However, functional RH5 is only expressible in eukaryotic systems and exhibits moderate temperature tolerance, limiting its usefulness in hot and low-income countries where malaria prevails. Current approaches to immunogen stabilization involve iterative application of rational or semirational design, random mutagenesis, and biochemical characterization. Typically, each round of optimization yields minor improvement in stability, and multiple rounds are required. In contrast, we developed a one-step design strategy using phylogenetic analysis and Rosetta atomistic calculations to design PfRH5 variants with improved packing and surface polarity. To demonstrate the robustness of this approach, we tested three PfRH5 designs, all of which showed improved stability relative to wild type. The best, bearing 18 mutations relative to PfRH5, expressed in a folded form in bacteria at >1 mg of protein per L of culture, and had 10-15 °C higher thermal tolerance than wild type, while also retaining ligand binding and immunogenic properties indistinguishable from wild type, proving its value as an immunogen for a future generation of vaccines against the malaria blood stage. We envision that this efficient computational stability design methodology will also be used to enhance the biophysical properties of other recalcitrant vaccine candidates from emerging pathogens.

Payne RO, Griffin PM, McCarthy JS, Draper SJ. 2017. Plasmodium vivax Controlled Human Malaria Infection - Progress and Prospects. Trends Parasitol, 33 (2), pp. 141-150. | Show Abstract | Read more

Modern controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) clinical trials have almost entirely focussed on Plasmodium falciparum, providing a highly informative means to investigate host-pathogen interactions as well as assess potential new prophylactic and therapeutic interventions. However, in recent years, there has been renewed interest in Plasmodium vivax, with CHMI models developed by groups in Colombia, the USA, and Australia. This review summarizes the published experiences, and examines the advantages and disadvantages of the different models that initiate infection either by mosquito bite or using a blood-stage inoculum. As for P. falciparum, CHMI studies with P. vivax will provide a platform for early proof-of-concept testing of drugs and vaccines, accelerating the development of novel interventions.

Hodgson SH, Llewellyn D, Silk SE, Milne KH, Elias SC, Miura K, Kamuyu G, Juma EA, Magiri C, Muia A et al. 2016. Changes in Serological Immunology Measures in UK and Kenyan Adults Post-controlled Human Malaria Infection. Front Microbiol, 7 (OCT), pp. 1604. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: The timing of infection is closely determined in controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies, and as such they provide a unique opportunity to dissect changes in immunological responses before and after a single infection. The first Kenyan Challenge Study (KCS) (Pan African Clinical Trial Registry: PACTR20121100033272) was performed in 2013 with the aim of establishing the CHMI model in Kenya. This study used aseptic, cryopreserved, attenuated Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites administered by needle and syringe (PfSPZ Challenge) and was the first to evaluate parasite dynamics post-CHMI in individuals with varying degrees of prior exposure to malaria. Methods: We describe detailed serological and functional immunological responses pre- and post-CHMI for participants in the KCS and compare these with those from malaria-naïve UK volunteers who also underwent CHMI (VAC049) (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01465048) using PfSPZ Challenge. We assessed antibody responses to three key blood-stage merozoite antigens [merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1), apical membrane protein 1 (AMA1), and reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (RH5)] and functional activity using two candidate measures of anti-merozoite immunity; the growth inhibition activity (GIA) assay and the antibody-dependent respiratory burst activity (ADRB) assay. Results:Clear serological differences were observed pre- and post-CHMI by ELISA between malaria-naïve UK volunteers in VAC049, and Kenyan volunteers who had prior malaria exposure. Antibodies to AMA1 and schizont extract correlated with parasite multiplication rate (PMR) post-CHMI in KCS. Serum from volunteer 110 in KCS, who demonstrated a dramatically reduced PMR in vivo, had no in vitro GIA prior to CHMI but the highest level of ADRB activity. A significant difference in ADRB activity was seen between KCS volunteers with minimal and definite prior exposure to malaria and significant increases were seen in ADRB activity post-CHMI in Kenyan volunteers. Quinine and atovaquone/proguanil, previously assumed to be removed by IgG purification, were identified as likely giving rise to aberrantly high in vitro GIA results. Conclusions: The ADRB activity assay is a promising functional assay that warrants further investigation as a measure of prior exposure to malaria and predictor of control of parasite growth. The CHMI model can be used to evaluate potential measures of naturally-acquired immunity to malaria.

Wang C, Hart M, Chui C, Ajuogu A, Brian IJ, de Cassan SC, Borrow P, Draper SJ, Douglas AD. 2016. Germinal Center B Cell and T Follicular Helper Cell Responses to Viral Vector and Protein-in-Adjuvant Vaccines. J Immunol, 197 (4), pp. 1242-1251. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is great interest in the development of Ab-inducing subunit vaccines targeting infections, including HIV, malaria, and Ebola. We previously reported that adenovirus vectored vaccines are potent in priming Ab responses, but uncertainty remains regarding the optimal approach for induction of humoral immune responses. In this study, using OVA as a model Ag, we assessed the magnitude of the primary and anamnestic Ag-specific IgG responses of mice to four clinically relevant vaccine formulations: replication-deficient adenovirus; modified vaccinia Ankara (a poxvirus); protein with alum; and protein in the squalene oil-in-water adjuvant Addavax. We then used flow cytometric assays capable of measuring total and Ag-specific germinal center (GC) B cell and follicular Th cell responses to compare the induction of these responses by the different formulations. We report that adenovirus vectored vaccines induce Ag insert-specific GC B cell and Ab responses of a magnitude comparable to those induced by a potent protein/squalene oil-in-water formulation whereas-despite a robust overall GC response-the insert-specific GC B cell and Ab responses induced by modified vaccinia Ankara were extremely weak. Ag-specific follicular Th cell responses to adenovirus vectored vaccines exceeded those induced by other platforms at day 7 after immunization. We found little evidence that innate immune activation by adenovirus may act as an adjuvant in such a manner that the humoral response to a recombinant protein may be enhanced by coadministering with an adenovirus lacking a transgene of interest. Overall, these studies provide further support for the use of replication-deficient adenoviruses to induce humoral responses.

Ewer K, Rampling T, Venkatraman N, Bowyer G, Wright D, Lambe T, Imoukhuede EB, Payne R, Fehling SK, Strecker T et al. 2016. A Monovalent Chimpanzee Adenovirus Ebola Vaccine Boosted with MVA. N Engl J Med, 374 (17), pp. 1635-1646. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The West African outbreak of Ebola virus disease that peaked in 2014 has caused more than 11,000 deaths. The development of an effective Ebola vaccine is a priority for control of a future outbreak. METHODS: In this phase 1 study, we administered a single dose of the chimpanzee adenovirus 3 (ChAd3) vaccine encoding the surface glycoprotein of Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) to 60 healthy adult volunteers in Oxford, United Kingdom. The vaccine was administered in three dose levels--1×10(10) viral particles, 2.5×10(10) viral particles, and 5×10(10) viral particles--with 20 participants in each group. We then assessed the effect of adding a booster dose of a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) strain, encoding the same Ebola virus glycoprotein, in 30 of the 60 participants and evaluated a reduced prime-boost interval in another 16 participants. We also compared antibody responses to inactivated whole Ebola virus virions and neutralizing antibody activity with those observed in phase 1 studies of a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-based vaccine expressing a ZEBOV glycoprotein (rVSV-ZEBOV) to determine relative potency and assess durability. RESULTS: No safety concerns were identified at any of the dose levels studied. Four weeks after immunization with the ChAd3 vaccine, ZEBOV-specific antibody responses were similar to those induced by rVSV-ZEBOV vaccination, with a geometric mean titer of 752 and 921, respectively. ZEBOV neutralization activity was also similar with the two vaccines (geometric mean titer, 14.9 and 22.2, respectively). Boosting with the MVA vector increased virus-specific antibodies by a factor of 12 (geometric mean titer, 9007) and increased glycoprotein-specific CD8+ T cells by a factor of 5. Significant increases in neutralizing antibodies were seen after boosting in all 30 participants (geometric mean titer, 139; P<0.001). Virus-specific antibody responses in participants primed with ChAd3 remained positive 6 months after vaccination (geometric mean titer, 758) but were significantly higher in those who had received the MVA booster (geometric mean titer, 1750; P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The ChAd3 vaccine boosted with MVA elicited B-cell and T-cell immune responses to ZEBOV that were superior to those induced by the ChAd3 vaccine alone. (Funded by the Wellcome Trust and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02240875.).

Payne RO, Milne KH, Elias SC, Edwards NJ, Douglas AD, Brown RE, Silk SE, Biswas S, Miura K, Roberts R et al. 2016. Demonstration of the Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum Controlled Human Malaria Infection Model to Assess Efficacy of the P. falciparum Apical Membrane Antigen 1 Vaccine, FMP2.1/AS01. J Infect Dis, 213 (11), pp. 1743-1751. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Models of controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) initiated by mosquito bite have been widely used to assess efficacy of preerythrocytic vaccine candidates in small proof-of-concept phase 2a clinical trials. Efficacy testing of blood-stage malaria parasite vaccines, however, has generally relied on larger-scale phase 2b field trials in malaria-endemic populations. We report the use of a blood-stage P. falciparum CHMI model to assess blood-stage vaccine candidates, using their impact on the parasite multiplication rate (PMR) as the primary efficacy end point. METHODS: Fifteen healthy United Kingdom adult volunteers were vaccinated with FMP2.1, a protein vaccine that is based on the 3D7 clone sequence of apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and formulated in Adjuvant System 01 (AS01). Twelve vaccinees and 15 infectivity controls subsequently underwent blood-stage CHMI. Parasitemia was monitored by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, and PMR was modeled from these data. RESULTS: FMP2.1/AS01 elicited anti-AMA1 T-cell and serum antibody responses. Analysis of purified immunoglobulin G showed functional growth inhibitory activity against P. falciparum in vitro. There were no vaccine- or CHMI-related safety concerns. All volunteers developed blood-stage parasitemia, with no impact of the vaccine on PMR. CONCLUSIONS: FMP2.1/AS01 demonstrated no efficacy after blood-stage CHMI. However, the model induced highly reproducible infection in all volunteers and will accelerate proof-of-concept testing of future blood-stage vaccine candidates. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT02044198.

Murungi LM, Sondén K, Llewellyn D, Rono J, Guleid F, Williams AR, Ogada E, Thairu A, Färnert A, Marsh K et al. 2016. Targets and Mechanisms Associated with Protection from Severe Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in Kenyan Children. Infect Immun, 84 (4), pp. 950-963. | Show Abstract | Read more

Severe malaria (SM) is a life-threatening complication of infection with Plasmodium falciparum Epidemiological observations have long indicated that immunity against SM is acquired relatively rapidly, but prospective studies to investigate its immunological basis are logistically challenging and have rarely been undertaken. We investigated the merozoite targets and antibody-mediated mechanisms associated with protection against SM in Kenyan children aged 0 to 2 years. We designed a unique prospective matched case-control study of well-characterized SM clinical phenotypes nested within a longitudinal birth cohort of children (n= 5,949) monitored over the first 2 years of life. We quantified immunological parameters in sera collected before the SM event in cases and their individually matched controls to evaluate the prospective odds of developing SM in the first 2 years of life. Anti-AMA1 antibodies were associated with a significant reduction in the odds of developing SM (odds ratio [OR] = 0.37; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.15 to 0.90; P= 0.029) after adjustment for responses to all other merozoite antigens tested, while those against MSP-2, MSP-3, Plasmodium falciparum Rh2 [PfRh2], MSP-119, and the infected red blood cell surface antigens were not. The combined ability of total IgG to inhibit parasite growth and mediate the release of reactive oxygen species from neutrophils was associated with a marked reduction in the odds of developing SM (OR = 0.07; 95% CI = 0.006 to 0.82;P= 0.03). Assays of these two functional mechanisms were poorly correlated (Spearman rank correlation coefficient [rs] = 0.12;P= 0.07). Our data provide epidemiological evidence that multiple antibody-dependent mechanisms contribute to protective immunity via distinct targets whose identification could accelerate the development of vaccines to protect against SM.

Brune KD, Leneghan DB, Brian IJ, Ishizuka AS, Bachmann MF, Draper SJ, Biswas S, Howarth M. 2016. Plug-and-Display: decoration of Virus-Like Particles via isopeptide bonds for modular immunization. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 19234. | Show Abstract | Read more

Virus-like particles (VLPs) are non-infectious self-assembling nanoparticles, useful in medicine and nanotechnology. Their repetitive molecularly-defined architecture is attractive for engineering multivalency, notably for vaccination. However, decorating VLPs with target-antigens by genetic fusion or chemical modification is time-consuming and often leads to capsid misassembly or antigen misfolding, hindering generation of protective immunity. Here we establish a platform for irreversibly decorating VLPs simply by mixing with protein antigen. SpyCatcher is a genetically-encoded protein designed to spontaneously form a covalent bond to its peptide-partner SpyTag. We expressed in E. coli VLPs from the bacteriophage AP205 genetically fused to SpyCatcher. We demonstrated quantitative covalent coupling to SpyCatcher-VLPs after mixing with SpyTag-linked to malaria antigens, including CIDR and Pfs25. In addition, we showed coupling to the VLPs for peptides relevant to cancer from epidermal growth factor receptor and telomerase. Injecting SpyCatcher-VLPs decorated with a malarial antigen efficiently induced antibody responses after only a single immunization. This simple, efficient and modular decoration of nanoparticles should accelerate vaccine development, as well as other applications of nanoparticle devices.

Li Y, Leneghan DB, Miura K, Nikolaeva D, Brian IJ, Dicks MD, Fyfe AJ, Zakutansky SE, de Cassan S, Long CA et al. 2016. Enhancing immunogenicity and transmission-blocking activity of malaria vaccines by fusing Pfs25 to IMX313 multimerization technology. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 18848. | Show Abstract | Read more

Transmission-blocking vaccines (TBV) target the sexual-stages of the malaria parasite in the mosquito midgut and are widely considered to be an essential tool for malaria elimination. High-titer functional antibodies are required against target antigens to achieve effective transmission-blocking activity. We have fused Pfs25, the leading malaria TBV candidate antigen to IMX313, a molecular adjuvant and expressed it both in ChAd63 and MVA viral vectors and as a secreted protein-nanoparticle. Pfs25-IMX313 expressed from viral vectors or as a protein-nanoparticle is significantly more immunogenic and gives significantly better transmission-reducing activity than monomeric Pfs25. In addition, we demonstrate that the Pfs25-IMX313 protein-nanoparticle leads to a qualitatively improved antibody response in comparison to soluble Pfs25, as well as to significantly higher germinal centre (GC) responses. These results demonstrate that antigen multimerization using IMX313 is a very promising strategy to enhance antibody responses against Pfs25, and that Pfs25-IMX313 is a highly promising TBV candidate vaccine.

Alharbi NK, Spencer AJ, Salman AM, Tully CM, Chinnakannan SK, Lambe T, Yamaguchi Y, Morris SJ, Orubu T, Draper SJ et al. 2016. Enhancing cellular immunogenicity of MVA-vectored vaccines by utilizing the F11L endogenous promoter. Vaccine, 34 (1), pp. 49-55. | Show Abstract | Read more

Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA)-vectored vaccines against malaria, influenza, tuberculosis and recently Ebola virus are in clinical development. Although this vector is safe and immunogenic in humans, efforts remain on-going to enhance immunogenicity through various approaches such as using stronger promoters to boost transgene expression. We previously reported that endogenous MVA promoters such as pB8 and pF11 increased transgene expression and immunogenicity, as compared to the conventional p7.5 promoter. Here, we show that both promoters also rivalled the mH5 promoter in enhancing MVA immunogenicity. We investigated the mechanisms behind this improved immunogenicity and show that it was a result of strong early transgene expression in vivo, rather than in vitro as would normally be assessed. Moreover, keeping the TK gene intact resulted in a modest improvement in immunogenicity. Utilizing pB8 or pF11 as ectopic promoters at the TK locus instead of their natural loci also increased transgene expression and immunogenicity. In addition to a reporter antigen, the pF11 promoter was tested with the expression of two vaccine antigens for which cellular immunogenicity was significantly increased as compared to the p7.5 promoter. Our data support the use of the pF11 and pB8 promoters for improved immunogenicity in future MVA-vectored candidate vaccines.

Hjerrild KA, Jin J, Wright KE, Brown RE, Marshall JM, Labbé GM, Silk SE, Cherry CJ, Clemmensen SB, Jørgensen T et al. 2016. Production of full-length soluble Plasmodium falciparum RH5 protein vaccine using a Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 stable cell line system. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 30357. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) has recently emerged as a leading candidate antigen against the blood-stage human malaria parasite. However it has proved challenging to identify a heterologous expression platform that can produce a soluble protein-based vaccine in a manner compliant with current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP). Here we report the production of full-length PfRH5 protein using a cGMP-compliant platform called ExpreS(2), based on a Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 (S2) stable cell line system. Five sequence variants of PfRH5 were expressed that differed in terms of mutagenesis strategies to remove potential N-linked glycans. All variants bound the PfRH5 receptor basigin and were recognized by a panel of monoclonal antibodies. Analysis following immunization of rabbits identified quantitative and qualitative differences in terms of the functional IgG antibody response against the P. falciparum parasite. The antibodies induced by one protein variant were shown to be qualitatively similar to responses induced by other vaccine platforms. This work identifies Drosophila S2 cells as a clinically-relevant platform suited for the production of 'difficult-to-make' proteins from Plasmodium parasites, and identifies a PfRH5 sequence variant that can be used for clinical production of a non-glycosylated, soluble full-length protein vaccine immunogen.

Draper SJ, Angov E, Horii T, Miller LH, Srinivasan P, Theisen M, Biswas S. 2015. Recent advances in recombinant protein-based malaria vaccines. Vaccine, 33 (52), pp. 7433-7443. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium parasites are the causative agent of human malaria, and the development of a highly effective vaccine against infection, disease and transmission remains a key priority. It is widely established that multiple stages of the parasite's complex lifecycle within the human host and mosquito vector are susceptible to vaccine-induced antibodies. The mainstay approach to antibody induction by subunit vaccination has been the delivery of protein antigen formulated in adjuvant. Extensive efforts have been made in this endeavor with respect to malaria vaccine development, especially with regard to target antigen discovery, protein expression platforms, adjuvant testing, and development of soluble and virus-like particle (VLP) delivery platforms. The breadth of approaches to protein-based vaccines is continuing to expand as innovative new concepts in next-generation subunit design are explored, with the prospects for the development of a highly effective multi-component/multi-stage/multi-antigen formulation seeming ever more likely. This review will focus on recent progress in protein vaccine design, development and/or clinical testing for a number of leading malaria antigens from the sporozoite-, merozoite- and sexual-stages of the parasite's lifecycle-including PfCelTOS, PfMSP1, PfAMA1, PfRH5, PfSERA5, PfGLURP, PfMSP3, Pfs48/45 and Pfs25. Future prospects and challenges for the development, production, human delivery and assessment of protein-based malaria vaccines are discussed.

Ewer KJ, Sierra-Davidson K, Salman AM, Illingworth JJ, Draper SJ, Biswas S, Hill AV. 2015. Progress with viral vectored malaria vaccines: A multi-stage approach involving "unnatural immunity". Vaccine, 33 (52), pp. 7444-7451. | Show Abstract | Read more

Viral vectors used in heterologous prime-boost regimens are one of very few vaccination approaches that have yielded significant protection against controlled human malaria infections. Recently, protection induced by chimpanzee adenovirus priming and modified vaccinia Ankara boosting using the ME-TRAP insert has been correlated with the induction of potent CD8(+) T cell responses. This regimen has progressed to field studies where efficacy against infection has now been reported. The same vectors have been used pre-clinically to identify preferred protective antigens for use in vaccines against the pre-erythrocytic, blood-stage and mosquito stages of malaria and this work is reviewed here for the first time. Such antigen screening has led to the prioritization of the PfRH5 blood-stage antigen, which showed efficacy against heterologous strain challenge in non-human primates, and vectors encoding this antigen are in clinical trials. This, along with the high transmission-blocking activity of some sexual-stage antigens, illustrates well the capacity of such vectors to induce high titre protective antibodies in addition to potent T cell responses. All of the protective responses induced by these vectors exceed the levels of the same immune responses induced by natural exposure supporting the view that, for subunit vaccines to achieve even partial efficacy in humans, "unnatural immunity" comprising immune responses of very high magnitude will need to be induced.

Llewellyn D, Miura K, Fay MP, Williams AR, Murungi LM, Shi J, Hodgson SH, Douglas AD, Osier FH, Fairhurst RM et al. 2015. Standardization of the antibody-dependent respiratory burst assay with human neutrophils and Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 14081. | Show Abstract | Read more

The assessment of naturally-acquired and vaccine-induced immunity to blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria is of long-standing interest. However, the field has suffered from a paucity of in vitro assays that reproducibly measure the anti-parasitic activity induced by antibodies in conjunction with immune cells. Here we optimize the antibody-dependent respiratory burst (ADRB) assay, which assesses the ability of antibodies to activate the release of reactive oxygen species from human neutrophils in response to P. falciparum blood-stage parasites. We focus particularly on assay parameters affecting serum preparation and concentration, and importantly assess reproducibility. Our standardized protocol involves testing each serum sample in singlicate with three independent neutrophil donors, and indexing responses against a standard positive control of pooled hyper-immune Kenyan sera. The protocol can be used to quickly screen large cohorts of samples from individuals enrolled in immuno-epidemiological studies or clinical vaccine trials, and requires only 6 μL of serum per sample. Using a cohort of 86 samples, we show that malaria-exposed individuals induce higher ADRB activity than malaria-naïve individuals. The development of the ADRB assay complements the use of cell-independent assays in blood-stage malaria, such as the assay of growth inhibitory activity, and provides an important standardized cell-based assay in the field.

Hodgson SH, Juma E, Salim A, Magiri C, Njenga D, Molyneux S, Njuguna P, Awuondo K, Lowe B, Billingsley PF et al. 2015. Lessons learnt from the first controlled human malaria infection study conducted in Nairobi, Kenya. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 182. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies, in which healthy volunteers are infected with Plasmodium falciparum to assess the efficacy of novel malaria vaccines and drugs, have become a vital tool to accelerate vaccine and drug development. CHMI studies provide a cost-effective and expeditious way to circumvent the use of large-scale field efficacy studies to deselect intervention candidates. However, to date few modern CHMI studies have been performed in malaria-endemic countries. METHODS: An open-label, randomized pilot CHMI study was conducted using aseptic, purified, cryopreserved, infectious P. falciparum sporozoites (SPZ) (Sanaria® PfSPZ Challenge) administered intramuscularly (IM) to healthy Kenyan adults (n = 28) with varying degrees of prior exposure to P. falciparum. The purpose of the study was to establish the PfSPZ Challenge CHMI model in a Kenyan setting with the aim of increasing the international capacity for efficacy testing of malaria vaccines and drugs, and allowing earlier assessment of efficacy in a population for which interventions are being developed. This was part of the EDCTP-funded capacity development of the CHMI platform in Africa. DISCUSSION: This paper discusses in detail lessons learnt from conducting the first CHMI study in Kenya. Issues pertinent to the African setting, including community sensitization, consent and recruitment are considered. Detailed reasoning regarding the study design (for example, dose and route of administration of PfSPZ Challenge, criteria for grouping volunteers according to prior exposure to malaria and duration of follow-up post CHMI) are given and changes other centres may want to consider for future studies are suggested. CONCLUSIONS: Performing CHMI studies in an African setting presents unique but surmountable challenges and offers great opportunity for acceleration of malaria vaccine and drug development. The reflections in this paper aim to aid other centres and partners intending to use the CHMI model in Africa.

Tran TM, Portugal S, Draper SJ, Crompton PD. 2015. Malaria Vaccines: Moving Forward After Encouraging First Steps. Curr Trop Med Rep, 2 (1), pp. 1-3. | Show Abstract | Read more

An effective malaria vaccine that reduces morbidity and mortality and contributes to malaria elimination is a much-needed tool, particularly in endemic areas where health-care delivery and vector control efforts are difficult to sustain. RTS,S/AS01 is likely to be the first licensed malaria vaccine and represents an important step toward malaria control and elimination. However, a partially effective vaccine such as RTS,S/AS01 poses challenges for evaluating the efficacy of second-generation malaria vaccines. Whole-sporozoite immunization approaches have shown promising results, inducing sterile immunity in small-scale trials of malaria-naïve adults, but may not achieve durable sterile protection in endemic populations. Vaccines targeting both the pre-erythrocytic and the erythrocyte-invasive form of the parasite (merozoites) may abrogate breakthrough infections by neutralizing merozoites emerging from infected hepatocytes, whereas vaccines targeting the sexual stages seek to break the transmission cycle. Moving forward, a multi-stage vaccine could be the next step toward malaria elimination and eradication.

Hodgson SH, Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Kimani D, Elias SC, Chang M, Daza G, Seilie AM, Magiri C, Muia A et al. 2015. Increased sample volume and use of quantitative reverse-transcription PCR can improve prediction of liver-to-blood inoculum size in controlled human malaria infection studies. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 33. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies increasingly rely on nucleic acid test (NAT) methods to detect and quantify parasites in the blood of infected participants. The lower limits of detection and quantification vary amongst the assays used throughout the world, which may affect the ability of mathematical models to accurately estimate the liver-to-blood inoculum (LBI) values that are used to judge the efficacy of pre-erythrocytic vaccine and drug candidates. METHODS: Samples were collected around the time of onset of pre-patent parasitaemia from subjects who enrolled in two different CHMI clinical trials. Blood samples were tested for Plasmodium falciparum 18S rRNA and/or rDNA targets by different NAT methods and results were compared. Methods included an ultrasensitive, large volume modification of an established quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) assay that achieves detection of as little as one parasite/mL of whole blood. RESULTS: Large volume qRT-PCR at the University of Washington was the most sensitive test and generated quantifiable data more often than any other NAT methodology. Standard quantitative PCR (qPCR) performed at the University of Oxford and standard volume qRT-PCR performed at the University of Washington were less sensitive than the large volume qRT-PCR, especially at 6.5 days after CHMI. In these trials, the proportion of participants for whom LBI could be accurately quantified using parasite density value greater than or equal to the lower limit of quantification was increased. A greater improvement would be expected in trials in which numerous subjects receive a lower LBI or low dose challenge. CONCLUSIONS: Standard qPCR and qRT-PCR methods with analytical sensitivities of ~20 parasites/mL probably suffice for most CHMI purposes, but the newly developed large volume qRT-PCR may be able to answer specific questions when more analytical sensitivity is required.

Nikolaeva D, Draper SJ, Biswas S. 2015. Toward the development of effective transmission-blocking vaccines for malaria. Expert Rev Vaccines, 14 (5), pp. 653-680. | Show Abstract | Read more

The continued global burden of malaria can in part be attributed to a complex lifecycle, with both human hosts and mosquito vectors serving as transmission reservoirs. In preclinical models of vaccine-induced immunity, antibodies to parasite sexual-stage antigens, ingested in the mosquito blood meal, can inhibit parasite survival in the insect midgut as judged by ex vivo functional studies such as the membrane feeding assay. In an era of renewed political momentum for malaria elimination and eradication campaigns, such observations have fueled support for the development and implementation of so-called transmission-blocking vaccines. While leading candidates are being evaluated using a variety of promising vaccine platforms, the field is also beginning to capitalize on global '-omics' data for the rational genome-based selection and unbiased characterization of parasite and mosquito proteins to expand the candidate list. This review covers the progress and prospects of these recent developments.

Douglas AD, Baldeviano GC, Lucas CM, Lugo-Roman LA, Crosnier C, Bartholdson SJ, Diouf A, Miura K, Lambert LE, Ventocilla JA et al. 2015. A PfRH5-based vaccine is efficacious against heterologous strain blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infection in aotus monkeys. Cell Host Microbe, 17 (1), pp. 130-139. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antigenic diversity has posed a critical barrier to vaccine development against the pathogenic blood-stage infection of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. To date, only strain-specific protection has been reported by trials of such vaccines in nonhuman primates. We recently showed that P. falciparum reticulocyte binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5), a merozoite adhesin required for erythrocyte invasion, is highly susceptible to vaccine-inducible strain-transcending parasite-neutralizing antibody. In vivo efficacy of PfRH5-based vaccines has not previously been evaluated. Here, we demonstrate that PfRH5-based vaccines can protect Aotus monkeys against a virulent vaccine-heterologous P. falciparum challenge and show that such protection can be achieved by a human-compatible vaccine formulation. Protection was associated with anti-PfRH5 antibody concentration and in vitro parasite-neutralizing activity, supporting the use of this in vitro assay to predict the in vivo efficacy of future vaccine candidates. These data suggest that PfRH5-based vaccines have potential to achieve strain-transcending efficacy in humans.

Viebig NK, D'Alessio F, Draper SJ, Sim BK, Mordmüller B, Bowyer PW, Luty AJ, Jungbluth S, Chitnis CE, Hill AV et al. 2015. Workshop report: Malaria vaccine development in Europe--preparing for the future. Vaccine, 33 (46), pp. 6137-6144. | Show Abstract | Read more

The deployment of a safe and effective malaria vaccine will be an important tool for the control of malaria and the reduction in malaria deaths. With the launch of the 2030 Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap, the malaria community has updated the goals and priorities for the development of such a vaccine and is now paving the way for a second phase of malaria vaccine development. During a workshop in Brussels in November 2014, hosted by the European Vaccine Initiative, key players from the European, North American and African malaria vaccine community discussed European strategies for future malaria vaccine development in the global context. The recommendations of the European malaria community should guide researchers, policy makers and funders of global health research and development in fulfilling the ambitious goals set in the updated Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap.

de Cassan SC, Shakri AR, Llewellyn D, Elias SC, Cho JS, Goodman AL, Jin J, Douglas AD, Suwanarusk R, Nosten FH et al. 2015. Preclinical Assessment of Viral Vectored and Protein Vaccines Targeting the Duffy-Binding Protein Region II of Plasmodium Vivax. Front Immunol, 6 (JUN), pp. 348. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria vaccine development has largely focused on Plasmodium falciparum; however, a reawakening to the importance of Plasmodium vivax has spurred efforts to develop vaccines against this difficult to treat and at times severe form of relapsing malaria, which constitutes a significant proportion of human malaria cases worldwide. The almost complete dependence of P. vivax red blood cell invasion on the interaction of the P. vivax Duffy-binding protein region II (PvDBP_RII) with the human Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) makes this antigen an attractive vaccine candidate against blood-stage P. vivax. Here, we generated both preclinical and clinically compatible adenoviral and poxviral vectored vaccine candidates expressing the Salvador I allele of PvDBP_RII - including human adenovirus serotype 5 (HAdV5), chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63), and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors. We report on the antibody and T cell immunogenicity of these vaccines in mice or rabbits, either used alone in a viral vectored prime-boost regime or in "mixed-modality" adenovirus prime - protein-in--adjuvant boost regimes (using a recombinant PvDBP_RII protein antigen formulated in Montanide(®)ISA720 or Abisco(®)100 adjuvants). Antibodies induced by these regimes were found to bind to native parasite antigen from P. vivax infected Thai patients and were capable of inhibiting the binding of PvDBP_RII to its receptor DARC using an in vitro binding inhibition assay. In recent years, recombinant ChAd63 and MVA vectors have been quickly translated into human clinical trials for numerous antigens from P. falciparum as well as a growing number of other pathogens. The vectors reported here are immunogenic in small animals, elicit antibodies against PvDBP_RII, and have recently entered clinical trials, which will provide the first assessment of the safety and immunogenicity of the PvDBP_RII antigen in humans.

Kapulu MC, Da DF, Miura K, Li Y, Blagborough AM, Churcher TS, Nikolaeva D, Williams AR, Goodman AL, Sangare I et al. 2015. Comparative assessment of transmission-blocking vaccine candidates against Plasmodium falciparum. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 11193. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria transmission-blocking vaccines (TBVs) target the development of Plasmodium parasites within the mosquito, with the aim of preventing malaria transmission from one infected individual to another. Different vaccine platforms, mainly protein-in-adjuvant formulations delivering the leading candidate antigens, have been developed independently and have reported varied transmission-blocking activities (TBA). Here, recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus 63, ChAd63, and modified vaccinia virus Ankara, MVA, expressing AgAPN1, Pfs230-C, Pfs25, and Pfs48/45 were generated. Antibody responses primed individually against all antigens by ChAd63 immunization in BALB/c mice were boosted by the administration of MVA expressing the same antigen. These antibodies exhibited a hierarchy of inhibitory activity against the NF54 laboratory strain of P. falciparum in Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes using the standard membrane feeding assay (SMFA), with anti-Pfs230-C and anti-Pfs25 antibodies giving complete blockade. The observed rank order of inhibition was replicated against P. falciparum African field isolates in A. gambiae in direct membrane feeding assays (DMFA). TBA achieved was IgG concentration dependent. This study provides the first head-to-head comparative analysis of leading antigens using two different parasite sources in two different vector species, and can be used to guide selection of TBVs for future clinical development using the viral-vectored delivery platform.

Alharbi NK, Chinnakannan SK, Gilbert SC, Draper SJ. 2015. Investigation of IRES Insertion into the Genome of Recombinant MVA as a Translation Enhancer in the Context of Transcript Decapping. PLoS One, 10 (5), pp. e0127978. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) has been used to deliver vaccine candidate antigens against infectious diseases and cancer. MVA is a potent viral vector for inducing high magnitudes of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells; however the cellular immune responses to a recombinant antigen in MVA could be further enhanced by increasing transgene expression. Previous reports showed the importance of utilizing an early poxviral promoter for increasing transgene expression and therefore enhancing cellular immune responses. However, the vaccinia D10 decapping enzyme is reported to target and decap vaccinia virus early transcripts - a mechanism that could limit the usefulness of early promoters in MVA viral vectors if this enzyme shows the same activity in this closely related virus. Therefore, we attempted to increase transgene expression in recombinant MVA by inserting the encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) upstream of a transgene sequence that is controlled by the B8R early promoter, and assessed D10 enzyme decapping activity in MVA. The aim of the IRES element was to initiate translation of the transgene transcript (after the removal of the cap structure by the D10 decapping protein) in a cap-independent manner. Here, we report that overexpression of the D10 decapping protein, in trans, in MVA reduced growth and transgene expression; however, the IRES element was not able to compensate for the negative effect of the D10 decapping protein. Recombinant MVA with EMCV IRES induced levels of both gene expression and transcription that were similar to the control recombinant MVA, encoding the same transgene but without the IRES element. Both viruses were tested in BALB/c mice and induced similar magnitudes of epitope-specific CD8+ T cells. This work indicates that the MVA version of the D10 decapping enzyme, overexpressed using a plasmid, is functional, but its negative effect on transgene expression by recombinant MVA cannot be overcome by the use of the EMCV IRES inserted upstream of the transgene initiation codon.

Halbroth BR, Draper SJ. 2015. Recent developments in malaria vaccinology. Adv Parasitol, 88 pp. 1-49. | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of a highly effective malaria vaccine remains a key goal to aid in the control and eventual eradication of this devastating parasitic disease. The field has made huge strides in recent years, with the first-generation vaccine RTS,S showing modest efficacy in a Phase III clinical trial. The updated 2030 Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap calls for a second generation vaccine to achieve 75% efficacy over two years for both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, and for a vaccine that can prevent malaria transmission. Whole-parasite immunisation approaches and combinations of pre-erythrocytic subunit vaccines are now reporting high-level efficacy, whilst exciting new approaches to the development of blood-stage and transmission-blocking vaccine subunit components are entering clinical development. The development of a highly effective multi-component multi-stage subunit vaccine now appears to be a realistic ambition. This review will cover these recent developments in malaria vaccinology.

Hodgson SH, Choudhary P, Elias SC, Milne KH, Rampling TW, Biswas S, Poulton ID, Miura K, Douglas AD, Alanine DG et al. 2014. Combining viral vectored and protein-in-adjuvant vaccines against the blood-stage malaria antigen AMA1: report on a phase 1a clinical trial. Mol Ther, 22 (12), pp. 2142-2154. | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of effective vaccines against difficult disease targets will require the identification of new subunit vaccination strategies that can induce and maintain effective immune responses in humans. Here we report on a phase 1a clinical trial using the AMA1 antigen from the blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite delivered either as recombinant protein formulated with Alhydrogel adjuvant with and without CPG 7909, or using recombinant vectored vaccines--chimpanzee adenovirus ChAd63 and the orthopoxvirus MVA. A variety of promising "mixed-modality" regimens were tested. All volunteers were primed with ChAd63, and then subsequently boosted with MVA and/or protein-in-adjuvant using either an 8- or 16-week prime-boost interval. We report on the safety of these regimens, as well as the T cell, B cell, and serum antibody responses. Notably, IgG antibody responses primed by ChAd63 were comparably boosted by AMA1 protein vaccine, irrespective of whether CPG 7909 was included in the Alhydrogel adjuvant. The ability to improve the potency of a relatively weak aluminium-based adjuvant in humans, by previously priming with an adenoviral vaccine vector encoding the same antigen, thus offers a novel vaccination strategy for difficult or neglected disease targets when access to more potent adjuvants is not possible.

Wright KE, Hjerrild KA, Bartlett J, Douglas AD, Jin J, Brown RE, Illingworth JJ, Ashfield R, Clemmensen SB, de Jongh WA et al. 2014. Structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies. Nature, 515 (7527), pp. 427-430. | Show Abstract | Read more

Invasion of host erythrocytes is essential to the life cycle of Plasmodium parasites and development of the pathology of malaria. The stages of erythrocyte invasion, including initial contact, apical reorientation, junction formation, and active invagination, are directed by coordinated release of specialized apical organelles and their parasite protein contents. Among these proteins, and central to invasion by all species, are two parasite protein families, the reticulocyte-binding protein homologue (RH) and erythrocyte-binding like proteins, which mediate host-parasite interactions. RH5 from Plasmodium falciparum (PfRH5) is the only member of either family demonstrated to be necessary for erythrocyte invasion in all tested strains, through its interaction with the erythrocyte surface protein basigin (also known as CD147 and EMMPRIN). Antibodies targeting PfRH5 or basigin efficiently block parasite invasion in vitro, making PfRH5 an excellent vaccine candidate. Here we present crystal structures of PfRH5 in complex with basigin and two distinct inhibitory antibodies. PfRH5 adopts a novel fold in which two three-helical bundles come together in a kite-like architecture, presenting binding sites for basigin and inhibitory antibodies at one tip. This provides the first structural insight into erythrocyte binding by the Plasmodium RH protein family and identifies novel inhibitory epitopes to guide design of a new generation of vaccines against the blood-stage parasite.

Hodgson SH, Juma E, Salim A, Magiri C, Kimani D, Njenga D, Muia A, Cole AO, Ogwang C, Awuondo K et al. 2014. Evaluating controlled human malaria infection in Kenyan adults with varying degrees of prior exposure to Plasmodium falciparum using sporozoites administered by intramuscular injection. Front Microbiol, 5 (DEC), pp. 686. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies are a vital tool to accelerate vaccine and drug development. As CHMI trials are performed in a controlled environment, they allow unprecedented, detailed evaluation of parasite growth dynamics (PGD) and immunological responses. However, CHMI studies have not been routinely performed in malaria-endemic countries or used to investigate mechanisms of naturally-acquired immunity (NAI) to Plasmodium falciparum. METHODS: We conducted an open-label, randomized CHMI pilot-study using aseptic, cryopreserved P. falciparum sporozoites (PfSPZ Challenge) to evaluate safety, infectivity and PGD in Kenyan adults with low to moderate prior exposure to P. falciparum (Pan African Clinical Trial Registry: PACTR20121100033272). RESULTS: All participants developed blood-stage infection confirmed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). However one volunteer (110) remained asymptomatic and blood-film negative until day 21 post-injection of PfSPZ Challenge. This volunteer had a reduced parasite multiplication rate (PMR) (1.3) in comparison to the other 27 volunteers (median 11.1). A significant correlation was seen between PMR and screening anti-schizont Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA) OD (p = 0.044, R = -0.384) but not when volunteer 110 was excluded from the analysis (p = 0.112, R = -0.313). CONCLUSIONS: PfSPZ Challenge is safe and infectious in malaria-endemic populations and could be used to assess the efficacy of malaria vaccines and drugs in African populations. Whilst our findings are limited by sample size, our pilot study has demonstrated for the first time that NAI may impact on PMR post-CHMI in a detectable fashion, an important finding that should be evaluated in further CHMI studies.

Biswas S, Choudhary P, Elias SC, Miura K, Milne KH, de Cassan SC, Collins KA, Halstead FD, Bliss CM, Ewer KJ et al. 2014. Assessment of humoral immune responses to blood-stage malaria antigens following ChAd63-MVA immunization, controlled human malaria infection and natural exposure. PLoS One, 9 (9), pp. e107903. | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of protective vaccines against many difficult infectious pathogens will necessitate the induction of effective antibody responses. Here we assess humoral immune responses against two antigens from the blood-stage merozoite of the Plasmodium falciparum human malaria parasite--MSP1 and AMA1. These antigens were delivered to healthy malaria-naïve adult volunteers in Phase Ia clinical trials using recombinant replication-deficient viral vectors--ChAd63 to prime the immune response and MVA to boost. In subsequent Phase IIa clinical trials, immunized volunteers underwent controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) with P. falciparum to assess vaccine efficacy, whereby all but one volunteer developed low-density blood-stage parasitemia. Here we assess serum antibody responses against both the MSP1 and AMA1 antigens following i) ChAd63-MVA immunization, ii) immunization and CHMI, and iii) primary malaria exposure in the context of CHMI in unimmunized control volunteers. Responses were also assessed in a cohort of naturally-immune Kenyan adults to provide comparison with those induced by a lifetime of natural malaria exposure. Serum antibody responses against MSP1 and AMA1 were characterized in terms of i) total IgG responses before and after CHMI, ii) responses to allelic variants of MSP1 and AMA1, iii) functional growth inhibitory activity (GIA), iv) IgG avidity, and v) isotype responses (IgG1-4, IgA and IgM). These data provide the first in-depth assessment of the quality of adenovirus-MVA vaccine-induced antibody responses in humans, along with assessment of how these responses are modulated by subsequent low-density parasite exposure. Notable differences were observed in qualitative aspects of the human antibody responses against these malaria antigens depending on the means of their induction and/or exposure of the host to the malaria parasite. Given the continued clinical development of viral vectored vaccines for malaria and a range of other diseases targets, these data should help to guide further immuno-monitoring studies of vaccine-induced human antibody responses.

Carey JB, Vrdoljak A, O'Mahony C, Hill AV, Draper SJ, Moore AC. 2014. Microneedle-mediated immunization of an adenovirus-based malaria vaccine enhances antigen-specific antibody immunity and reduces anti-vector responses compared to the intradermal route. Sci Rep, 4 (1), pp. 6154. | Show Abstract | Read more

Substantial effort has been placed in developing efficacious recombinant attenuated adenovirus-based vaccines. However induction of immunity to the vector is a significant obstacle to its repeated use. Here we demonstrate that skin-based delivery of an adenovirus-based malaria vaccine, HAdV5-PyMSP1₄₂, to mice using silicon microneedles induces equivalent or enhanced antibody responses to the encoded antigen, however it results in decreased anti-vector responses, compared to intradermal delivery. Microneedle-mediated vaccine priming and resultant induction of low anti-vector antibody titres permitted repeated use of the same adenovirus vaccine vector. This resulted in significantly increased antigen-specific antibody responses in these mice compared to ID-treated mice. Boosting with a heterologous vaccine; MVA-PyMSP1₄₂ also resulted in significantly greater antibody responses in mice primed with HAdV5-PyMSP1₄₂ using MN compared to the ID route. The highest protection against blood-stage malaria challenge was observed when a heterologous route of immunization (MN/ID) was used. Therefore, microneedle-mediated immunization has potential to both overcome some of the logistic obstacles surrounding needle-and-syringe-based immunization as well as to facilitate the repeated use of the same adenovirus vaccine thereby potentially reducing manufacturing costs of multiple vaccines. This could have important benefits in the clinical ease of use of adenovirus-based immunization strategies.

Elias SC, Choudhary P, de Cassan SC, Biswas S, Collins KA, Halstead FD, Bliss CM, Ewer KJ, Hodgson SH, Duncan CJ et al. 2014. Analysis of human B-cell responses following ChAd63-MVA MSP1 and AMA1 immunization and controlled malaria infection. Immunology, 141 (4), pp. 628-644. | Show Abstract | Read more

Acquisition of non-sterilizing natural immunity to Plasmodium falciparum malaria has been shown in low transmission areas following multiple exposures. However, conflicting data from endemic areas suggest that the parasite may interfere with the induction of effective B-cell responses. To date, the impact of blood-stage parasite exposure on antigen-specific B cells has not been reported following controlled human malaria infection (CHMI). Here we analysed human B-cell responses in a series of Phase I/IIa clinical trials, which include CHMI, using candidate virus-vectored vaccines encoding two blood-stage antigens: merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) and apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1). Previously vaccinated volunteers show boosting of pre-existing antigen-specific memory B-cell (mBC) responses following CHMI. In contrast, unvaccinated malaria-naive control volunteers developed an mBC response against MSP1 but not AMA1. Serum IgG correlated with the mBC response after booster vaccination but this relationship was less well maintained following CHMI. A significant reduction in peripheral MSP1-specific mBC was observed at the point of diagnosis of blood-stage infection. This was coincident with a reduction in peripheral blood B-cell subsets expressing CXCR3 and elevated serum levels of interferon-γ and CXCL9, suggesting migration away from the periphery. These CHMI data confirm that mBC and antibody responses can be induced and boosted by blood-stage parasite exposure, in support of epidemiological studies on low-level parasite exposure.

Douglas AD, Williams AR, Knuepfer E, Illingworth JJ, Furze JM, Crosnier C, Choudhary P, Bustamante LY, Zakutansky SE, Awuah DK et al. 2014. Neutralization of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites by antibodies against PfRH5. J Immunol, 192 (1), pp. 245-258. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is intense interest in induction and characterization of strain-transcending neutralizing Ab against antigenically variable human pathogens. We have recently identified the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) as a target of broadly neutralizing Abs, but there is little information regarding the functional mechanism(s) of Ab-mediated neutralization. In this study, we report that vaccine-induced polyclonal anti-PfRH5 Abs inhibit the tight attachment of merozoites to erythrocytes and are capable of blocking the interaction of PfRH5 with its receptor basigin. Furthermore, by developing anti-PfRH5 mAbs, we provide evidence of the following: 1) the ability to block the PfRH5-basigin interaction in vitro is predictive of functional activity, but absence of blockade does not predict absence of functional activity; 2) neutralizing mAbs bind spatially related epitopes on the folded protein, involving at least two defined regions of the PfRH5 primary sequence; 3) a brief exposure window of PfRH5 is likely to necessitate rapid binding of Ab to neutralize parasites; and 4) intact bivalent IgG contributes to but is not necessary for parasite neutralization. These data provide important insight into the mechanisms of broadly neutralizing anti-malaria Abs and further encourage anti-PfRH5-based malaria prevention efforts.

Ewer KJ, O'Hara GA, Duncan CJ, Collins KA, Sheehy SH, Reyes-Sandoval A, Goodman AL, Edwards NJ, Elias SC, Halstead FD et al. 2013. Protective CD8+ T-cell immunity to human malaria induced by chimpanzee adenovirus-MVA immunisation. Nat Commun, 4 pp. 2836. | Show Abstract | Read more

Induction of antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells offers the prospect of immunization against many infectious diseases, but no subunit vaccine has induced CD8(+) T cells that correlate with efficacy in humans. Here we demonstrate that a replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus vector followed by a modified vaccinia virus Ankara booster induces exceptionally high frequency T-cell responses (median >2400 SFC/10(6) peripheral blood mononuclear cells) to the liver-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria antigen ME-TRAP. It induces sterile protective efficacy against heterologous strain sporozoites in three vaccinees (3/14, 21%), and delays time to patency through substantial reduction of liver-stage parasite burden in five more (5/14, 36%), P=0.008 compared with controls. The frequency of monofunctional interferon-γ-producing CD8(+) T cells, but not antibodies, correlates with sterile protection and delay in time to patency (P(corrected)=0.005). Vaccine-induced CD8(+) T cells provide protection against human malaria, suggesting that a major limitation of previous vaccination approaches has been the insufficient magnitude of induced T cells.

Llewellyn D, de Cassan SC, Williams AR, Douglas AD, Forbes EK, Adame-Gallegos JR, Shi J, Pleass RJ, Draper SJ. 2014. Assessment of antibody-dependent respiratory burst activity from mouse neutrophils on Plasmodium yoelii malaria challenge outcome. J Leukoc Biol, 95 (2), pp. 369-382. | Show Abstract | Read more

New tools are required to expedite the development of an effective vaccine against the blood-stage infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This work describes the assessment of the ADRB assay in a mouse model, characterizing the functional interaction between antimalarial serum antibodies and FcRs upon neutrophils. We describe a reproducible, antigen-specific assay, dependent on functional FcR signaling, and show that ADRB activity is induced equally by IgG1 and IgG2a isotypes and is modulated by blocking FcR function. However, following immunization of mice with the blood-stage vaccine candidate antigen MSP142, no measurable ADRB activity was induced against PEMS and neither was vaccine efficacy modulated against Plasmodium yoelii blood-stage challenge in γ(-/-) mice compared with WT mice. In contrast, following a primary, nonlethal P. yoelii parasite challenge, serum from vaccinated mice and nonimmunized controls showed anti-PEMS ADRB activity. Upon secondary challenge, nonimmunized γ(-/-) mice showed a reduced ability to control blood-stage parasitemia compared with immunized γ(-/-) mice; however, WT mice, depleted of their neutrophils, did not lose their ability to control infection. Thus, whereas neutrophil-induced ADRB against PEMS does not appear to play a role in protection against P. yoelii rodent malaria, induction of ADRB activity after challenge suggests that antigen targets of anti-PEMS ADRB activity remain to be established, as well as further supporting the observation that ADRB activity to P. falciparum arises following repeated natural exposure.

Williams AR, Zakutansky SE, Miura K, Dicks MD, Churcher TS, Jewell KE, Vaughan AM, Turner AV, Kapulu MC, Michel K et al. 2013. Immunisation against a serine protease inhibitor reduces intensity of Plasmodium berghei infection in mosquitoes. Int J Parasitol, 43 (11), pp. 869-874. | Show Abstract | Read more

The mosquito innate immune response is able to clear the majority of Plasmodium parasites. This immune clearance is controlled by a number of regulatory molecules including serine protease inhibitors (serpins). To determine whether such molecules could represent a novel target for a malaria transmission-blocking vaccine, we vaccinated mice with Anopheles gambiae serpin-2. Antibodies against Anopheles gambiae serpin-2 significantly reduced the infection of a heterologous Anopheles species (Anopheles stephensi) by Plasmodium berghei, however this effect was not observed with Plasmodium falciparum. Therefore, this approach of targeting regulatory molecules of the mosquito immune system may represent a novel approach to transmission-blocking malaria vaccines.

Sheehy SH, Douglas AD, Draper SJ. 2013. Challenges of assessing the clinical efficacy of asexual blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria vaccines. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 9 (9), pp. 1831-1840. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the absence of any highly effective vaccine candidate against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, it remains imperative for the field to pursue all avenues that may lead to the successful development of such a formulation. The development of a subunit vaccine targeting the asexual blood-stage of Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection has proven particularly challenging with only limited success to date in clinical trials. However, only a fraction of potential blood-stage vaccine antigens have been evaluated as targets, and a number of new promising candidate antigen formulations and delivery platforms are approaching clinical development. It is therefore essential that reliable and sensitive methods of detecting, or ruling out, even modest efficacy of blood-stage vaccines in small clinical trials be established. In this article we evaluate the challenges facing blood-stage vaccine developers, assess the appropriateness and limitations of various in vivo approaches for efficacy assessment and suggest future directions for the field.

Draper SJ, Cottingham MG, Gilbert SC. 2013. Utilizing poxviral vectored vaccines for antibody induction-progress and prospects. Vaccine, 31 (39), pp. 4223-4230. | Show Abstract | Read more

Over the last decade, poxviral vectors emerged as a mainstay approach for the induction of T cell-mediated immunity by vaccination, and their suitability for human use has led to widespread clinical testing of candidate vectors against infectious intracellular pathogens and cancer. In contrast, poxviruses have been widely perceived in the vaccine field as a poor choice of vector for the induction of humoral immunity. However, a growing body of data, from both animal models and recent clinical trials, now suggests that these vectors can be successfully utilized to prime and boost B cells and effective antibody responses. Significant progress has been made in the context of heterologous prime-boost immunization regimes, whereby poxviruses are able to boost responses primed by other vectors, leading to the induction of high-titre antigen-specific antibody responses. In other cases, poxviral vectors have been shown to stimulate humoral immunity against both themselves and encoded transgenes, in particular viral surface proteins such as influenza haemagglutinin. In the veterinary field, recombinant poxviral vectors have made a significant impact with numerous vectors licensed for use against a variety of animal viruses. On-going studies continue to explore the potential of poxviral vectors to modulate qualitative aspects of the humoral response, as well as their amenability to adjuvantation seeking to improve quantitative antibody immunogenicity. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms of B cell induction by recombinant poxviruses remain poorly defined, and further work is necessary to help guide the rational optimization of future poxviral vaccine candidates aiming to induce antibodies.

Goodman AL, Forbes EK, Williams AR, Douglas AD, de Cassan SC, Bauza K, Biswas S, Dicks MD, Llewellyn D, Moore AC et al. 2013. The utility of Plasmodium berghei as a rodent model for anti-merozoite malaria vaccine assessment. Sci Rep, 3 (1), pp. 1706. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rodent malaria species Plasmodium yoelii and P. chabaudi have been widely used to validate vaccine approaches targeting blood-stage merozoite antigens. However, increasing data suggest the P. berghei rodent malaria may be able to circumvent vaccine-induced anti-merozoite responses. Here we confirm a failure to protect against P. berghei, despite successful antibody induction against leading merozoite antigens using protein-in-adjuvant or viral vectored vaccine delivery. No subunit vaccine approach showed efficacy in mice following immunization and challenge with the wild-type P. berghei strains ANKA or NK65, or against a chimeric parasite line encoding a merozoite antigen from P. falciparum. Protection was not improved in knockout mice lacking the inhibitory Fc receptor CD32b, nor against a Δsmac P. berghei parasite line with a non-sequestering phenotype. An improved understanding of the mechanisms responsible for protection, or failure of protection, against P. berghei merozoites could guide the development of an efficacious vaccine against P. falciparum.

Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Duncan CJ, Thompson FM, Sheehy SH, O'Hara GA, Anagnostou N, Walther M, Webster DP, Dunachie SJ et al. 2013. Comparison of modeling methods to determine liver-to-blood inocula and parasite multiplication rates during controlled human malaria infection. J Infect Dis, 208 (2), pp. 340-345. | Show Abstract | Read more

Controlled human malaria infection is used to measure efficacy of candidate malaria vaccines before field studies are undertaken. Mathematical modeling using data from quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) parasitemia monitoring can discriminate between vaccine effects on the parasite's liver and blood stages. Uncertainty regarding the most appropriate modeling method hinders interpretation of such trials. We used qPCR data from 267 Plasmodium falciparum infections to compare linear, sine-wave, and normal-cumulative-density-function models. We find that the parameters estimated by these models are closely correlated, and their predictive accuracy for omitted data points was similar. We propose that future studies include the linear model.

de Cassan SC, Draper SJ. 2013. Recent advances in antibody-inducing poxviral and adenoviral vectored vaccine delivery platforms for difficult disease targets. Expert Rev Vaccines, 12 (4), pp. 365-378. | Show Abstract | Read more

Viral vectored vaccine delivery platforms have traditionally been used for the induction of cellular rather than humoral immunity. However, in recent years, recombinant adenoviral and poxviral vectored vaccines have been optimized to induce B-cell responses, resulting in the demonstration of high-titer antibody responses in a wide variety of animal species. These approaches have now been translated, confirming the induction of substantial levels of antigen-specific IgG in a series of Phase I human clinical trials targeting HIV-1 and Plasmodium falciparum malaria. To further improve the induction of antibodies, mixed-modality regimens based on recombinant viral and protein/adjuvant vaccines are now being assessed. However, limited data exist about the underlying mechanisms mediating the induction of B-cell responses by these subunit vaccines and their ability to influence the qualitative aspects of vaccine-induced B-cell populations and immunoglobulin. Future studies in this area are needed to guide the rational design of antibody-inducing subunit vaccine strategies.

Elias SC, Collins KA, Halstead FD, Choudhary P, Bliss CM, Ewer KJ, Sheehy SH, Duncan CJ, Biswas S, Hill AV, Draper SJ. 2013. Assessment of immune interference, antagonism, and diversion following human immunization with biallelic blood-stage malaria viral-vectored vaccines and controlled malaria infection. J Immunol, 190 (3), pp. 1135-1147. | Show Abstract | Read more

Overcoming antigenic variation is one of the major challenges in the development of an effective vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, a causative agent of human malaria. Inclusion of multiple Ag variants in subunit vaccine candidates is one strategy that has aimed to overcome this problem for the leading blood-stage malaria vaccine targets, that is, merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) and apical membrane Ag 1 (AMA1). However, previous studies, utilizing malaria Ags, have concluded that inclusion of multiple allelic variants, encoding altered peptide ligands, in such a vaccine may be detrimental to both the priming and in vivo restimulation of Ag-experienced T cells. In this study, we analyze the T cell responses to two alleles of MSP1 and AMA1 induced by vaccination of malaria-naive adult volunteers with bivalent viral-vectored vaccine candidates. We show a significant bias to the 3D7/MAD20 allele compared with the Wellcome allele for the 33 kDa region of MSP1, but not for the 19 kDa fragment or the AMA1 Ag. Although this bias could be caused by "immune interference" at priming, the data do not support a significant role for "immune antagonism" during memory T cell restimulation, despite observation of the latter at a minimal epitope level in vitro. A lack of class I HLA epitopes in the Wellcome allele that are recognized by vaccinated volunteers may in fact contribute to the observed bias. We also show that controlled infection with 3D7 strain P. falciparum parasites neither boosts existing 3D7-specific T cell responses nor appears to "immune divert" cellular responses toward the Wellcome allele.

Williams AR, Douglas AD, Miura K, Illingworth JJ, Choudhary P, Murungi LM, Furze JM, Diouf A, Miotto O, Crosnier C et al. 2012. Enhancing blockade of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte invasion: assessing combinations of antibodies against PfRH5 and other merozoite antigens. PLoS Pathog, 8 (11), pp. e1002991. | Show Abstract | Read more

No vaccine has yet proven effective against the blood-stages of Plasmodium falciparum, which cause the symptoms and severe manifestations of malaria. We recently found that PfRH5, a P. falciparum-specific protein expressed in merozoites, is efficiently targeted by broadly-neutralizing, vaccine-induced antibodies. Here we show that antibodies against PfRH5 efficiently inhibit the in vitro growth of short-term-adapted parasite isolates from Cambodia, and that the EC(50) values of antigen-specific antibodies against PfRH5 are lower than those against PfAMA1. Since antibody responses elicited by multiple antigens are speculated to improve the efficacy of blood-stage vaccines, we conducted detailed assessments of parasite growth inhibition by antibodies against PfRH5 in combination with antibodies against seven other merozoite antigens. We found that antibodies against PfRH5 act synergistically with antibodies against certain other merozoite antigens, most notably with antibodies against other erythrocyte-binding antigens such as PfRH4, to inhibit the growth of a homologous P. falciparum clone. A combination of antibodies against PfRH4 and basigin, the erythrocyte receptor for PfRH5, also potently inhibited parasite growth. This methodology provides the first quantitative evidence that polyclonal vaccine-induced antibodies can act synergistically against P. falciparum antigens and should help to guide the rational development of future multi-antigen vaccines.

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJ, Elias SC, Choudhary P, Biswas S, Halstead FD, Collins KA, Edwards NJ, Douglas AD, Anagnostou NA et al. 2012. ChAd63-MVA-vectored blood-stage malaria vaccines targeting MSP1 and AMA1: assessment of efficacy against mosquito bite challenge in humans. Mol Ther, 20 (12), pp. 2355-2368. | Show Abstract | Read more

The induction of cellular immunity, in conjunction with antibodies, may be essential for vaccines to protect against blood-stage infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. We have shown that prime-boost delivery of P. falciparum blood-stage antigens by chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) followed by the attenuated orthopoxvirus MVA is safe and immunogenic in healthy adults. Here, we report on vaccine efficacy against controlled human malaria infection delivered by mosquito bites. The blood-stage malaria vaccines were administered alone, or together (MSP1+AMA1), or with a pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine candidate (MSP1+ME-TRAP). In this first human use of coadministered ChAd63-MVA regimes, we demonstrate immune interference whereby responses against merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) are dominant over apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and ME-TRAP. We also show that induction of strong cellular immunity against MSP1 and AMA1 is safe, but does not impact on parasite growth rates in the blood. In a subset of vaccinated volunteers, a delay in time to diagnosis was observed and sterilizing protection was observed in one volunteer coimmunized with MSP1+AMA1-results consistent with vaccine-induced pre-erythrocytic, rather than blood-stage, immunity. These data call into question the utility of T cell-inducing blood-stage malaria vaccines and suggest that the focus should remain on high-titer antibody induction against susceptible antigen targets.

Biswas S, Spencer AJ, Forbes EK, Gilbert SC, Holder AA, Hill AV, Draper SJ. 2012. Recombinant viral-vectored vaccines expressing Plasmodium chabaudi AS apical membrane antigen 1: mechanisms of vaccine-induced blood-stage protection. J Immunol, 188 (10), pp. 5041-5053. | Show Abstract | Read more

Apical membrane Ag 1 (AMA1) is one of the leading candidate Ags for inclusion in a subunit vaccine against blood-stage malaria. However, the efficacy of Ab-inducing recombinant AMA1 protein vaccines in phase IIa/b clinical trials remains disappointing. In this article, we describe the development of recombinant human adenovirus serotype 5 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara vectors encoding AMA1 from the Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi strain AS. These vectors, when used in a heterologous prime-boost regimen in BALB/c mice, are capable of inducing strong transgene-specific humoral and cellular immune responses. We show that this vaccination regimen is protective against a nonlethal P. chabaudi chabaudi strain AS blood-stage challenge, resulting in reduced peak parasitemias. The role of vaccine-induced, AMA1-specific Abs and T cells in mediating the antiparasite effect was investigated by in vivo depletion of CD4(+) T cells and adoptive-transfer studies into naive and immunodeficient mice. Depletion of CD4(+) T cells led to a loss of vaccine-induced protection. Adoptive-transfer studies confirmed that efficacy is mediated by both CD4(+) T cells and Abs functioning in the context of an intact immune system. Unlike previous studies, these results confirm that Ag-specific CD4(+) T cells, induced by a clinically relevant vaccine-delivery platform, can make a significant contribution to vaccine blood-stage efficacy in the P. chabaudi model. Given that cell-mediated immunity may also contribute to parasite control in human malaria, these data support the clinical development of viral-vectored vaccines that induce both T cell and Abs against Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage malaria Ags like AMA1.

Duncan CJ, Draper SJ. 2012. Controlled human blood stage malaria infection: current status and potential applications. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 86 (4), pp. 561-565. | Show Abstract | Read more

Controlled human malaria infection by blood stage parasite (BSP) inoculation is an alternative to the well-established model of infection with Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites delivered by mosquito bites. The BSP model has been utilized less frequently, but its use is increasing. Advantages of BSP challenge include greater ease of administration, better standardization of the infecting dose per volunteer, and good inter-study reproducibility of in vivo parasite dynamics. Recently, a surprising reduction in clinical symptoms at microscopic patency in the BSP model has been identified, which has an undefined and intriguing pathophysiologic basis, but may make this approach more acceptable to volunteers. We summarize clinical, parasitologic, and immunologic data from all BSP challenges to date, explore differences between the BSP and sporozoite models, and propose future applications for BSP challenge.

Forbes EK, de Cassan SC, Llewellyn D, Biswas S, Goodman AL, Cottingham MG, Long CA, Pleass RJ, Hill AV, Hill F, Draper SJ. 2012. T cell responses induced by adenoviral vectored vaccines can be adjuvanted by fusion of antigen to the oligomerization domain of C4b-binding protein. PLoS One, 7 (9), pp. e44943. | Show Abstract | Read more

Viral vectored vaccines have been shown to induce both T cell and antibody responses in animals and humans. However, the induction of even higher level T cell responses may be crucial in achieving vaccine efficacy against difficult disease targets, especially in humans. Here we investigate the oligomerization domain of the α-chain of C4b-binding protein (C4 bp) as a candidate T cell "molecular adjuvant" when fused to malaria antigens expressed by human adenovirus serotype 5 (AdHu5) vectored vaccines in BALB/c mice. We demonstrate that i) C-terminal fusion of an oligomerization domain can enhance the quantity of antigen-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses induced in mice after only a single immunization of recombinant AdHu5, and that the T cells maintain similar functional cytokine profiles; ii) an adjuvant effect is observed for AdHu5 vectors expressing either the 42 kDa C-terminal domain of Plasmodium yoelii merozoite surface protein 1 (PyMSP1(42)) or the 83 kDa ectodomain of P. falciparum strain 3D7 apical membrane antigen 1 (PfAMA1), but not a candidate 128kDa P. falciparum MSP1 biallelic fusion antigen; iii) following two homologous immunizations of AdHu5 vaccines, antigen-specific T cell responses are further enhanced, however, in both BALB/c mice and New Zealand White rabbits no enhancement of functional antibody responses is observed; and iv) that the T cell adjuvant activity of C4 bp is not dependent on a functional Fc-receptor γ-chain in the host, but is associated with the oligomerization of small (<80 kDa) antigens expressed by recombinant AdHu5. The oligomerization domain of C4 bp can thus adjuvant T cell responses induced by AdHu5 vectors against selected antigens and its clinical utility as well as mechanism of action warrant further investigation.

Spencer AJ, Hill F, Honeycutt JD, Cottingham MG, Bregu M, Rollier CS, Furze J, Draper SJ, Søgaard KC, Gilbert SC et al. 2012. Fusion of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen 85A to an oligomerization domain enhances its immunogenicity in both mice and non-human primates. PLoS One, 7 (3), pp. e33555. | Show Abstract | Read more

To prevent important infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV, vaccines inducing greater T cell responses are required. In this study, we investigated whether fusion of the M. tuberculosis antigen 85A to recently described adjuvant IMX313, a hybrid avian C4bp oligomerization domain, could increase T cell responses in pre-clinical vaccine model species. In mice, the fused antigen 85A showed consistent increases in CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses after DNA and MVA vaccination. In rhesus macaques, higher IFN-γ responses were observed in animals vaccinated with MVA-Ag85A IMX313 after both primary and secondary immunizations. In both animal models, fusion to IMX313 induced a quantitative enhancement in the response without altering its quality: multifunctional cytokines were uniformly increased and differentiation into effector and memory T cell subsets was augmented rather than skewed. An extensive in vivo characterization suggests that IMX313 improves the initiation of immune responses as an increase in antigen 85A specific cells was observed as early as day 3 after vaccination. This report demonstrates that antigen multimerization using IMX313 is a simple and effective cross-species method to improve vaccine immunogenicity with potentially broad applicability.

Vrdoljak A, McGrath MG, Carey JB, Draper SJ, Hill AV, O'Mahony C, Crean AM, Moore AC. 2012. Coated microneedle arrays for transcutaneous delivery of live virus vaccines. J Control Release, 159 (1), pp. 34-42. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vaccines are sensitive biologics that require continuous refrigerated storage to maintain their viability. The vast majority of vaccines are also administered using needles and syringes. The need for cold chain storage and the significant logistics surrounding needle-and-syringe vaccination is constraining the success of immunization programs. Recombinant live viral vectors are a promising platform for the development of vaccines against a number of infectious diseases, however these viruses must retain infectivity to be effective. Microneedles offer an effective and painless method for delivery of vaccines directly into skin that in the future could provide solutions to current vaccination issues. Here we investigated methods of coating live recombinant adenovirus and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors onto solid microneedle arrays. An effective spray-coating method, using conventional pharmaceutical processes, was developed, in tandem with suitable sugar-based formulations, which produces arrays with a unique coating of viable virus in a dry form around the shaft of each microneedle on the array. Administration of live virus-coated microneedle arrays successfully resulted in virus delivery, transcutaneous infection and induced an antibody or CD8(+) T cell response in mice that was comparable to that obtained by needle-and-syringe intradermal immunization. To our knowledge, this is the first report of successful vaccination with recombinant live viral vectored vaccines coated on microneedle delivery devices.

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJ, Elias SC, Biswas S, Collins KA, O'Hara GA, Halstead FD, Ewer KJ, Mahungu T, Spencer AJ et al. 2012. Phase Ia clinical evaluation of the safety and immunogenicity of the Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage antigen AMA1 in ChAd63 and MVA vaccine vectors. PLoS One, 7 (2), pp. e31208. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Traditionally, vaccine development against the blood-stage of Plasmodium falciparum infection has focused on recombinant protein-adjuvant formulations in order to induce high-titer growth-inhibitory antibody responses. However, to date no such vaccine encoding a blood-stage antigen(s) alone has induced significant protective efficacy against erythrocytic-stage infection in a pre-specified primary endpoint of a Phase IIa/b clinical trial designed to assess vaccine efficacy. Cell-mediated responses, acting in conjunction with functional antibodies, may be necessary for immunity against blood-stage P. falciparum. The development of a vaccine that could induce both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses would enable important proof-of-concept efficacy studies to be undertaken to address this question. METHODOLOGY: We conducted a Phase Ia, non-randomized clinical trial in 16 healthy, malaria-naïve adults of the chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) replication-deficient viral vectored vaccines encoding two alleles (3D7 and FVO) of the P. falciparum blood-stage malaria antigen; apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1). ChAd63-MVA AMA1 administered in a heterologous prime-boost regime was shown to be safe and immunogenic, inducing high-level T cell responses to both alleles 3D7 (median 2036 SFU/million PBMC) and FVO (median 1539 SFU/million PBMC), with a mixed CD4(+)/CD8(+) phenotype, as well as substantial AMA1-specific serum IgG responses (medians of 49 µg/mL and 41 µg/mL for 3D7 and FVO AMA1 respectively) that demonstrated growth inhibitory activity in vitro. CONCLUSIONS: ChAd63-MVA is a safe and highly immunogenic delivery platform for both alleles of the AMA1 antigen in humans which warrants further efficacy testing. ChAd63-MVA is a promising heterologous prime-boost vaccine strategy that could be applied to numerous other diseases where strong cellular and humoral immune responses are required for protection. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01095055.

Forbes EK, Biswas S, Collins KA, Gilbert SC, Hill AV, Draper SJ. 2011. Combining liver- and blood-stage malaria viral-vectored vaccines: investigating mechanisms of CD8+ T cell interference. J Immunol, 187 (7), pp. 3738-3750. | Show Abstract | Read more

Replication-deficient adenovirus and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors expressing single pre-erythrocytic or blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum Ags have entered clinical testing using a heterologous prime-boost immunization approach. In this study, we investigated the utility of the same immunization regimen when combining viral vectored vaccines expressing the 42-kDa C terminus of the blood-stage Ag merozoite surface protein 1 and the pre-erythrocytic Ag circumsporozoite protein in the Plasmodium yoelii mouse model. We find that vaccine coadministration leads to maintained Ab responses and efficacy against blood-stage infection, but reduced secondary CD8(+) T cell responses against both Ags and efficacy against liver-stage infection. CD8(+) T cell interference can be minimized by coadministering the MVA vaccines at separate sites, resulting in enhanced liver-stage efficacy in mice immunized against both Ags compared with just one. CD8(+) T cell interference (following MVA coadministration as a mixture) may be caused partly by a lack of physiologic space for high-magnitude responses against multiple Ags, but is not caused by competition for presentation of Ag on MHC class I molecules, nor is it due to restricted T cell access to APCs presenting both Ags. Instead, enhanced killing of peptide-pulsed cells is observed in mice possessing pre-existing T cells against two Ags compared with just one, suggesting that priming against multiple Ags may in part reduce the potency of multiantigen MVA vectors to stimulate secondary CD8(+) T cell responses. These data have important implications for the development of a multistage or multicomponent viral vectored malaria vaccine for use in humans.

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJ, Elias SC, Collins KA, Ewer KJ, Spencer AJ, Williams AR, Halstead FD, Moretz SE, Miura K et al. 2011. Phase Ia clinical evaluation of the Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage antigen MSP1 in ChAd63 and MVA vaccine vectors. Mol Ther, 19 (12), pp. 2269-2276. | Show Abstract | Read more

Efficacy trials of antibody-inducing protein-in-adjuvant vaccines targeting the blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite have so far shown disappointing results. The induction of cell-mediated responses in conjunction with antibody responses is thought to be one alternative strategy that could achieve protective efficacy in humans. Here, we prepared chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) replication-deficient vectors encoding the well-studied P. falciparum blood-stage malaria antigen merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1). A phase Ia clinical trial was conducted in healthy adults of a ChAd63-MVA MSP1 heterologous prime-boost immunization regime. The vaccine was safe and generally well tolerated. Fewer systemic adverse events (AEs) were observed following ChAd63 MSP1 than MVA MSP1 administration. Exceptionally strong T-cell responses were induced, and these displayed a mixed of CD4(+) and CD8(+) phenotype. Substantial MSP1-specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody responses were also induced, which were capable of recognizing native parasite antigen, but these did not reach titers sufficient to neutralize P. falciparum parasites in vitro. This viral vectored vaccine regime is thus a leading approach for the induction of strong cellular and humoral immunogenicity against difficult disease targets in humans. Further studies are required to assess whether this strategy can achieve protective efficacy against blood-stage malaria infection.

de Cassan SC, Forbes EK, Douglas AD, Milicic A, Singh B, Gupta P, Chauhan VS, Chitnis CE, Gilbert SC, Hill AV, Draper SJ. 2011. The requirement for potent adjuvants to enhance the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of protein vaccines can be overcome by prior immunization with a recombinant adenovirus. J Immunol, 187 (5), pp. 2602-2616. | Show Abstract | Read more

A central goal in vaccinology is the induction of high and sustained Ab responses. Protein-in-adjuvant formulations are commonly used to achieve such responses. However, their clinical development can be limited by the reactogenicity of some of the most potent preclinical adjuvants and the cost and complexity of licensing new adjuvants for human use. Also, few adjuvants induce strong cellular immunity, which is important for protection against many diseases, such as malaria. We compared classical adjuvants such as aluminum hydroxide to new preclinical adjuvants and adjuvants in clinical development, such as Abisco 100, CoVaccine HT, Montanide ISA720, and stable emulsion-glucopyranosyl lipid A, for their ability to induce high and sustained Ab responses and T cell responses. These adjuvants induced a broad range of Ab responses when used in a three-shot protein-in-adjuvant regimen using the model Ag OVA and leading blood-stage malaria vaccine candidate Ags. Surprisingly, this range of Ab immunogenicity was greatly reduced when a protein-in-adjuvant vaccine was used to boost Ab responses primed by a human adenovirus serotype 5 vaccine recombinant for the same Ag. This human adenovirus serotype 5-protein regimen also induced a more cytophilic Ab response and demonstrated improved efficacy of merozoite surface protein-1 protein vaccines against a Plasmodium yoelii blood-stage challenge. This indicates that the differential immunogenicity of protein vaccine adjuvants may be largely overcome by prior immunization with recombinant adenovirus, especially for adjuvants that are traditionally considered poorly immunogenic in the context of subunit vaccination and may circumvent the need for more potent chemical adjuvants.

Douglas AD, Andrews L, Draper SJ, Bojang K, Milligan P, Gilbert SC, Imoukhuede EB, Hill AV. 2011. Substantially reduced pre-patent parasite multiplication rates are associated with naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum. J Infect Dis, 203 (9), pp. 1337-1340. | Show Abstract | Read more

Naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum's asexual blood stage reduces parasite multiplication at microscopically detectable densities. The effect of natural immunity on initial prepatent parasite multiplication during the period following a new infection has been uncertain, contributing to doubt regarding the utility of experimental challenge models for blood-stage vaccine trials. Here we present data revealing that parasite multiplication rates during the initial prepatent period in semi-immune Gambian adults are substantially lower than in malaria-naive participants. This supports the view that a blood-stage vaccine capable of emulating the disease-reducing effect of natural immunity could achieve a detectable effect during the prepatent period.

Goodman AL, Blagborough AM, Biswas S, Wu Y, Hill AV, Sinden RE, Draper SJ. 2011. A viral vectored prime-boost immunization regime targeting the malaria Pfs25 antigen induces transmission-blocking activity. PLoS One, 6 (12), pp. e29428. | Show Abstract | Read more

The ookinete surface protein Pfs25 is a macrogamete-to-ookinete/ookinete stage antigen of Plasmodium falciparum, capable of exerting high-level anti-malarial transmission-blocking activity following immunization with recombinant protein-in-adjuvant formulations. Here, this antigen was expressed in recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63), human adenovirus serotype 5 (AdHu5) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) viral vectored vaccines. Two immunizations were administered to mice in a heterologous prime-boost regime. Immunization of mice with AdHu5 Pfs25 at week 0 and MVA Pfs25 at week 10 (Ad-MVA Pfs25) resulted in high anti-Pfs25 IgG titers, consisting of predominantly isotypes IgG1 and IgG2a. A single priming immunization with ChAd63 Pfs25 was as effective as AdHu5 Pfs25 with respect to ELISA titers at 8 weeks post-immunization. Sera from Ad-MVA Pfs25 immunized mice inhibited the transmission of P. falciparum to the mosquito both ex vivo and in vivo. In a standard membrane-feeding assay using NF54 strain P. falciparum, oocyst intensity in Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes was significantly reduced in an IgG concentration-dependent manner when compared to control feeds (96% reduction of intensity, 78% reduction in prevalence at a 1 in 5 dilution of sera). In addition, an in vivo transmission-blocking effect was also demonstrated by direct feeding of immunized mice infected with Pfs25DR3, a chimeric P. berghei line expressing Pfs25 in place of endogenous Pbs25. In this assay the density of Pfs25DR3 oocysts was significantly reduced when mosquitoes were fed on vaccinated as compared to control mice (67% reduction of intensity, 28% reduction in prevalence) and specific IgG titer correlated with efficacy. These data confirm the utility of the adenovirus-MVA vaccine platform for the induction of antibodies with transmission-blocking activity, and support the continued development of this alternative approach to transmission-blocking malaria subunit vaccines.

Douglas AD, Williams AR, Illingworth JJ, Kamuyu G, Biswas S, Goodman AL, Wyllie DH, Crosnier C, Miura K, Wright GJ et al. 2011. The blood-stage malaria antigen PfRH5 is susceptible to vaccine-inducible cross-strain neutralizing antibody. Nat Commun, 2 (1), pp. 601. | Show Abstract | Read more

Current vaccine strategies against the asexual blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum are mostly focused on well-studied merozoite antigens that induce immune responses after natural exposure, but have yet to induce robust protection in any clinical trial. Here we compare human-compatible viral-vectored vaccines targeting ten different blood-stage antigens. We show that the full-length P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homologue 5 (PfRH5) is highly susceptible to cross-strain neutralizing vaccine-induced antibodies, out-performing all other antigens delivered by the same vaccine platform. We find that, despite being susceptible to antibody, PfRH5 is unlikely to be under substantial immune selection pressure; there is minimal acquisition of anti-PfRH5 IgG antibodies in malaria-exposed Kenyans. These data challenge the widespread beliefs that any merozoite antigen that is highly susceptible to immune attack would be subject to significant levels of antigenic polymorphism, and that erythrocyte invasion by P. falciparum is a degenerate process involving a series of parallel redundant pathways.

Bregu M, Draper SJ, Hill AV, Greenwood BM. 2011. Accelerating vaccine development and deployment: report of a Royal Society satellite meeting. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 366 (1579), pp. 2841-2849. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Royal Society convened a meeting on the 17th and 18th November 2010 to review the current ways in which vaccines are developed and deployed, and to make recommendations as to how each of these processes might be accelerated. The meeting brought together academics, industry representatives, research sponsors, regulators, government advisors and representatives of international public health agencies from a broad geographical background. Discussions were held under Chatham House rules. High-throughput screening of new vaccine antigens and candidates was seen as a driving force for vaccine discovery. Multi-stakeholder, small-scale manufacturing facilities capable of rapid production of clinical grade vaccines are currently too few and need to be expanded. In both the human and veterinary areas, there is a need for tiered regulatory standards, differentially tailored for experimental and commercial vaccines, to allow accelerated vaccine efficacy testing. Improved cross-fertilization of knowledge between industry and academia, and between human and veterinary vaccine developers, could lead to more rapid application of promising approaches and technologies to new product development. Identification of best-practices and development of checklists for product development plans and implementation programmes were seen as low-cost opportunities to shorten the timeline for vaccine progression from the laboratory bench to the people who need it.

Shi J, McIntosh RS, Adame-Gallegos J, Dehal PK, van Egmond M, van de Winkel J, Draper SJ, Forbes EK, Corran PH, Holder AA et al. 2011. The generation and evaluation of recombinant human IgA specific for Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1-19 (PfMSP1 19). BMC Biotechnol, 11 (1), pp. 77. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Human immunoglobulin G (IgG) plays an important role in mediating protective immune responses to malaria. Although human serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the second most abundant class of antibody in the circulation, its contribution, if any, to protective responses against malaria is not clear. RESULTS: To explore the mechanism(s) by which IgA may mediate a protective effect, we generated fully human IgA specific for the C-terminal 19-kDa region of Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (PfMSP1 19), a major target of protective immune responses. This novel human IgA bound antigen with an affinity comparable to that seen for an epitope-matched protective human IgG1. Furthermore, the human IgA induced significantly higher NADPH-mediated oxidative bursts and degranulation from human neutrophils than the epitope-matched human IgG1 from which it was derived. Despite showing efficacy in in vitro functional assays, the human IgA failed to protect against parasite challenge in vivo in mice transgenic for the human Fcα receptor (FcαRI/CD89). A minority of the animals treated with IgA, irrespective of FcαRI expression, showed elevated serum TNF-α levels and concomitant mouse anti-human antibody (MAHA) responses. CONCLUSIONS: The lack of protection afforded by MSP1 19-specific IgA against parasite challenge in mice transgenic for human FcαRI suggests that this antibody class does not play a major role in control of infection. However, we cannot exclude the possibility that protective capacity may have been compromised in this model due to rapid clearance and inappropriate bio-distribution of IgA, and differences in FcαRI expression profile between humans and transgenic mice.

Biswas S, Dicks MD, Long CA, Remarque EJ, Siani L, Colloca S, Cottingham MG, Holder AA, Gilbert SC, Hill AV, Draper SJ. 2011. Transgene optimization, immunogenicity and in vitro efficacy of viral vectored vaccines expressing two alleles of Plasmodium falciparum AMA1. PLoS One, 6 (6), pp. e20977. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) is a leading candidate vaccine antigen against blood-stage malaria, although to date numerous clinical trials using mainly protein-in-adjuvant vaccines have shown limited success. Here we describe the pre-clinical development and optimization of recombinant human and simian adenoviral (AdHu5 and ChAd63) and orthopoxviral (MVA) vectors encoding transgene inserts for Plasmodium falciparum AMA1 (PfAMA1). METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: AdHu5-MVA prime-boost vaccination in mice and rabbits using these vectors encoding the 3D7 allele of PfAMA1 induced cellular immune responses as well as high-titer antibodies that showed growth inhibitory activity (GIA) against the homologous but not heterologous parasite strains. In an effort to overcome the issues of PfAMA1 antigenic polymorphism and pre-existing immunity to AdHu5, a simian adenoviral (ChAd63) vector and MVA encoding two alleles of PfAMA1 were developed. This antigen, composed of the 3D7 and FVO alleles of PfAMA1 fused in tandem and with expression driven by a single promoter, was optimized for antigen secretion and transmembrane expression. These bi-allelic PfAMA1 vaccines, when administered to mice and rabbits, demonstrated comparable immunogenicity to the mono-allelic vaccines and purified serum IgG now showed GIA against the two divergent strains of P. falciparum encoded in the vaccine. CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cell responses against epitopes that were both common and unique to the two alleles of PfAMA1 were also measured in mice. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Optimized transgene inserts encoding two divergent alleles of the same antigen can be successfully inserted into adeno- and pox-viral vaccine vectors. Adenovirus-MVA immunization leads to the induction of T cell responses common to both alleles, as well as functional antibody responses that are effective against both of the encoded strains of P. falciparum in vitro. These data support the further clinical development of these vaccine candidates in Phase I/IIa clinical trials.

Duncan CJ, Sheehy SH, Ewer KJ, Douglas AD, Collins KA, Halstead FD, Elias SC, Lillie PJ, Rausch K, Aebig J et al. 2011. Impact on malaria parasite multiplication rates in infected volunteers of the protein-in-adjuvant vaccine AMA1-C1/Alhydrogel+CPG 7909. PLoS One, 6 (7), pp. e22271. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Inhibition of parasite growth is a major objective of blood-stage malaria vaccines. The in vitro assay of parasite growth inhibitory activity (GIA) is widely used as a surrogate marker for malaria vaccine efficacy in the down-selection of candidate blood-stage vaccines. Here we report the first study to examine the relationship between in vivo Plasmodium falciparum growth rates and in vitro GIA in humans experimentally infected with blood-stage malaria. METHODS: In this phase I/IIa open-label clinical trial five healthy malaria-naive volunteers were immunised with AMA1/C1-Alhydrogel+CPG 7909, and together with three unvaccinated controls were challenged by intravenous inoculation of P. falciparum infected erythrocytes. RESULTS: A significant correlation was observed between parasite multiplication rate in 48 hours (PMR) and both vaccine-induced growth-inhibitory activity (Pearson r = -0.93 [95% CI: -1.0, -0.27] P = 0.02) and AMA1 antibody titres in the vaccine group (Pearson r = -0.93 [95% CI: -0.99, -0.25] P = 0.02). However immunisation failed to reduce overall mean PMR in the vaccine group in comparison to the controls (vaccinee 16 fold [95% CI: 12, 22], control 17 fold [CI: 0, 65] P = 0.70). Therefore no impact on pre-patent period was observed (vaccine group median 8.5 days [range 7.5-9], control group median 9 days [range 7-9]). CONCLUSIONS: Despite the first observation in human experimental malaria infection of a significant association between vaccine-induced in vitro growth inhibitory activity and in vivo parasite multiplication rate, this did not translate into any observable clinically relevant vaccine effect in this small group of volunteers. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov [NCT00984763].

Draper SJ, Biswas S, Spencer AJ, Remarque EJ, Capone S, Naddeo M, Dicks MD, Faber BW, de Cassan SC, Folgori A et al. 2010. Enhancing blood-stage malaria subunit vaccine immunogenicity in rhesus macaques by combining adenovirus, poxvirus, and protein-in-adjuvant vaccines. J Immunol, 185 (12), pp. 7583-7595. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protein-in-adjuvant formulations and viral-vectored vaccines encoding blood-stage malaria Ags have shown efficacy in rodent malaria models and in vitro assays against Plasmodium falciparum. Abs and CD4(+) T cell responses are associated with protective efficacy against blood-stage malaria, whereas CD8(+) T cells against some classical blood-stage Ags can also have a protective effect against liver-stage parasites. No subunit vaccine strategy alone has generated demonstrable high-level efficacy against blood-stage infection in clinical trials. The induction of high-level Ab responses, as well as potent T and B cell effector and memory populations, is likely to be essential to achieve immediate and sustained protective efficacy in humans. This study describes in detail the immunogenicity of vaccines against P. falciparum apical membrane Ag 1 in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), including the chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (AdCh63), the poxvirus modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), and protein vaccines formulated in Alhydrogel or CoVaccine HT adjuvants. AdCh63-MVA heterologous prime-boost immunization induces strong and long-lasting multifunctional CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cell responses that exhibit a central memory-like phenotype. Three-shot (AdCh63-MVA-protein) or two-shot (AdCh63-protein) regimens induce memory B cells and high-titer functional IgG responses that inhibit the growth of two divergent strains of P. falciparum in vitro. Prior immunization with adenoviral vectors of alternative human or simian serotype does not affect the immunogenicity of the AdCh63 apical membrane Ag 1 vaccine. These data encourage the further clinical development and coadministration of protein and viral vector vaccine platforms in an attempt to induce broad cellular and humoral immune responses against blood-stage malaria Ags in humans.

Douglas AD, de Cassan SC, Dicks MD, Gilbert SC, Hill AV, Draper SJ. 2010. Tailoring subunit vaccine immunogenicity: maximizing antibody and T cell responses by using combinations of adenovirus, poxvirus and protein-adjuvant vaccines against Plasmodium falciparum MSP1. Vaccine, 28 (44), pp. 7167-7178. | Show Abstract | Read more

Subunit vaccination modalities tend to induce particular immune effector responses. Viral vectors are well known for their ability to induce strong T cell responses, while protein-adjuvant vaccines have been used primarily for induction of antibody responses. Here, we demonstrate in mice using a Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (PfMSP1) antigen that novel regimes combining adenovirus and poxvirus vectored vaccines with protein antigen in Montanide ISA720 adjuvant can achieve simultaneous antibody and T cell responses which equal, or in some cases surpass, the best immune responses achieved by either the viral vectors or the protein vaccine alone. Such broad responses can be achieved either using three-stage vaccination protocols, or with an equally effective two-stage protocol in which viral vectors are admixed with protein and adjuvant, and were apparent despite the use of a protein antigen that represented only a portion of the viral vector antigen. We describe further possible advantages of viral vectors in achieving consistent antibody priming, enhanced antibody avidity, and cytophilic isotype skew. These data strengthen the evidence that tailored combinations of vaccine platforms can achieve desired combinations of immune responses, and further encourage the co-administration of antibody-inducing recombinant protein vaccines with T cell- and antibody-inducing recombinant viral vectors as one strategy that may achieve protective blood-stage malaria immunity in humans.

Goodman AL, Epp C, Moss D, Holder AA, Wilson JM, Gao GP, Long CA, Remarque EJ, Thomas AW, Ammendola V et al. 2010. New candidate vaccines against blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria: prime-boost immunization regimens incorporating human and simian adenoviral vectors and poxviral vectors expressing an optimized antigen based on merozoite surface protein 1. Infect Immun, 78 (11), pp. 4601-4612. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1) is a leading candidate vaccine antigen for blood-stage malaria, its efficacy in clinical trials has been limited in part by antigenic polymorphism and potentially by the inability of protein-in-adjuvant vaccines to induce strong cellular immunity. Here we report the design of novel vectored Plasmodium falciparum vaccines capable of overcoming such limitations. We optimized an antigenic insert comprising the four conserved blocks of MSP-1 fused to tandemly arranged sequences that represent both allelic forms of the dimorphic 42-kDa C-terminal region. Inserts were expressed by adenoviral and poxviral vectors and employed in heterologous prime-boost regimens. Simian adenoviral vectors were used in an effort to circumvent preexisting immunity to human adenoviruses. In preclinical studies these vaccines induced potent cellular immune responses and high-titer antibodies directed against MSP-1. The antibodies induced were found to have growth-inhibitory activity against dimorphic allelic families of P. falciparum. These vectored vaccines should allow assessment in humans of the safety and efficacy of inducing strong cellular as well as cross-strain humoral immunity to P. falciparum MSP-1.

Hill AV, Reyes-Sandoval A, O'Hara G, Ewer K, Lawrie A, Goodman A, Nicosia A, Folgori A, Colloca S, Cortese R et al. 2010. Prime-boost vectored malaria vaccines: progress and prospects. Hum Vaccin, 6 (1), pp. 78-83. | Show Abstract | Read more

The difficulty of inducing protective immunity through antibodies against sporozoites led to efforts to assess vectored vaccines as a means of inducing protective T-cell immunity against the malaria liver-stage parasite. Although DNA vectored vaccines used alone were poorly immunogenic and not protective, high levels of parasite clearance in the liver has been achieved with viral vectored vaccines used in heterologous prime-boost regimes. Such vectored vaccination regimes represent one of only two approaches that have induced repeatable partial efficacy in human P. falciparum subunit vaccine trials. Interestingly, vectors expressing the TRAP antigen have been consistently been more immunogenic and protective than vectors expressing the circumsporozoite protein in human trials. However, sterile protection requires induction of very potent T-cell responses that are currently only achievable with heterologous prime-boost regimes. Recently, simian adenoviruses have been assessed as priming agents in Adenovirus-MVA regimes in both phase I and phase IIa trials in the UK, based on very promising pre-clinical results showing better immunogenicity and efficacy than previous prime-boost regimes. The same vectors are also being assessed clinically expressing blood-stage antigens, attempting to induce both protective antibodies and T cells as recently demonstrated in murine efficacy studies. These viral vectors now provide a major option for inclusion in a high efficacy multi-stage malaria vaccine that should achieve deployable levels of efficacy in endemic settings.

Goodman AL, Draper SJ. 2010. Blood-stage malaria vaccines - recent progress and future challenges. Ann Trop Med Parasitol, 104 (3), pp. 189-211. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a major global health problem, responsible for up to 1 million deaths each year. Major efforts have been made to develop an effective vaccine against this disease, to reduce the associated morbidity and mortality. There has already been considerable progress, with the first vaccine against the pre-erythrocytic stages of P. falciparum now en route to licensure. There remains, however, a strong scientific rationale for the development of a highly effective additional vaccine component against the blood stages of the parasite, which could be deployed in conjunction with partially effective control measures against the pre-erythrocytic stages. Here, recent progress in the clinical development of blood-stage vaccines is reviewed, including methods of antigen selection, the limitations of in-vitro assays for selecting vaccines for clinical development, and the results of recently published clinical trials. This review seeks to summarize recent developments in our understanding of immunity to blood-stage parasites, as well as the relevant key advances made in vaccine technologies over the last decade. The future challenges that face this field of vaccine research are also described.

Draper SJ, Heeney JL. 2010. Viruses as vaccine vectors for infectious diseases and cancer. Nat Rev Microbiol, 8 (1), pp. 62-73. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent developments in the use of viruses as vaccine vectors have been facilitated by a better understanding of viral biology. Advances occur as we gain greater insight into the interrelationship of viruses and the immune system. Viral-vector vaccines remain the best means to induce cellular immunity and are now showing promise for the induction of strong humoral responses. The potential benefits for global health that are offered by this field reflect the scope and utility of viruses as vaccine vectors for human and veterinary applications, with targets ranging from certain types of cancer to a vast array of infectious diseases.

Draper SJ, Goodman AL, Biswas S, Forbes EK, Moore AC, Gilbert SC, Hill AV. 2009. Recombinant viral vaccines expressing merozoite surface protein-1 induce antibody- and T cell-mediated multistage protection against malaria. Cell Host Microbe, 5 (1), pp. 95-105. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protecting against both liver and blood stages of infection is a long-sought goal of malaria vaccine design. Recently, we described the use of replication-defective viral vaccine vectors expressing the malaria antigen merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1) as an antimalarial vaccine strategy that elicits potent and protective antibody responses against blood-stage parasites. Here, we show that vaccine-induced MSP-1-specific CD4(+) T cells provide essential help for protective B cell responses, and CD8(+) T cells mediate significant antiparasitic activity against liver-stage parasites. Enhanced survival is subsequently seen in immunized mice following challenge with sporozoites, which mimics the natural route of infection more closely than when using infected red blood cells. This effect is evident both in the presence and absence of protective antibodies and is associated with decreased parasite burden in the liver followed by enhanced induction of the cytokine IFN-gamma in the serum. Multistage immunity against malaria can thus be achieved by using viral vectors recombinant for MSP-1.

Davies MN, Bayry J, Tchilian EZ, Vani J, Shaila MS, Forbes EK, Draper SJ, Beverley PC, Tough DF, Flower DR. 2009. Toward the discovery of vaccine adjuvants: coupling in silico screening and in vitro analysis of antagonist binding to human and mouse CCR4 receptors. PLoS One, 4 (11), pp. e8084. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Adjuvants enhance or modify an immune response that is made to an antigen. An antagonist of the chemokine CCR4 receptor can display adjuvant-like properties by diminishing the ability of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) to down-regulate immune responses. METHODOLOGY: Here, we have used protein modelling to create a plausible chemokine receptor model with the aim of using virtual screening to identify potential small molecule chemokine antagonists. A combination of homology modelling and molecular docking was used to create a model of the CCR4 receptor in order to investigate potential lead compounds that display antagonistic properties. Three-dimensional structure-based virtual screening of the CCR4 receptor identified 116 small molecules that were calculated to have a high affinity for the receptor; these were tested experimentally for CCR4 antagonism. Fifteen of these small molecules were shown to inhibit specifically CCR4-mediated cell migration, including that of CCR4(+) Tregs. SIGNIFICANCE: Our CCR4 antagonists act as adjuvants augmenting human T cell proliferation in an in vitro immune response model and compound SP50 increases T cell and antibody responses in vivo when combined with vaccine antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium yoelii in mice.

Draper SJ, Moore AC, Goodman AL, Long CA, Holder AA, Gilbert SC, Hill F, Hill AV. 2008. Effective induction of high-titer antibodies by viral vector vaccines. Nat Med, 14 (8), pp. 819-821. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protein-in-adjuvant vaccines have shown limited success against difficult diseases such as blood-stage malaria. Here we show that a recombinant adenovirus-poxvirus prime-boost immunization regime (known to induce strong T cell immunogenicity) can also induce very strong antigen-specific antibody responses, and we identify a simple complement-based adjuvant to further enhance immunogenicity. Antibodies induced against a blood-stage malaria antigen by this viral vector platform are highly effective against Plasmodium yoelii parasites in mice and against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro.

Bayry J, Tchilian EZ, Davies MN, Forbes EK, Draper SJ, Kaveri SV, Hill AV, Kazatchkine MD, Beverley PC, Flower DR, Tough DF. 2008. In silico identified CCR4 antagonists target regulatory T cells and exert adjuvant activity in vaccination. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 105 (29), pp. 10221-10226. | Show Abstract | Read more

Adjuvants are substances that enhance immune responses and thus improve the efficacy of vaccination. Few adjuvants are available for use in humans, and the one that is most commonly used (alum) often induces suboptimal immunity for protection against many pathogens. There is thus an obvious need to develop new and improved adjuvants. We have therefore taken an approach to adjuvant discovery that uses in silico modeling and structure-based drug-design. As proof-of-principle we chose to target the interaction of the chemokines CCL22 and CCL17 with their receptor CCR4. CCR4 was posited as an adjuvant target based on its expression on CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs), which negatively regulate immune responses induced by dendritic cells (DC), whereas CCL17 and CCL22 are chemotactic agents produced by DC, which are crucial in promoting contact between DC and CCR4(+) T cells. Molecules identified by virtual screening and molecular docking as CCR4 antagonists were able to block CCL22- and CCL17-mediated recruitment of human Tregs and Th2 cells. Furthermore, CCR4 antagonists enhanced DC-mediated human CD4(+) T cell proliferation in an in vitro immune response model and amplified cellular and humoral immune responses in vivo in experimental models when injected in combination with either Modified Vaccinia Ankara expressing Ag85A from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MVA85A) or recombinant hepatitis B virus surface antigen (rHBsAg) vaccines. The significant adjuvant activity observed provides good evidence supporting our hypothesis that CCR4 is a viable target for rational adjuvant design.

Sridhar S, Reyes-Sandoval A, Draper SJ, Moore AC, Gilbert SC, Gao GP, Wilson JM, Hill AV. 2008. Single-dose protection against Plasmodium berghei by a simian adenovirus vector using a human cytomegalovirus promoter containing intron A. J Virol, 82 (8), pp. 3822-3833. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human adenovirus serotype 5 (AdH5) vector vaccines elicit strong immune responses to the encoded antigen and have been used in various disease models. We designed AdH5 vectors expressing antigen under the control of a human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) immediate-early promoter containing its intron A sequence. The transcriptional levels of antigen and immune responses to antigen for vectors with the HCMV promoter with the intron A sequence (LP) were greater than those for AdH5 vectors using the HCMV promoter sequence without intron A (SP). We compared an E1E3-deleted AdH5 adenoviral vector, which affords more space for insertion of foreign sequences, and showed it to be as immunogenic as an E1-deleted AdH5 vector. Neutralizing antibodies to AdH5 limit the efficacy of vaccines based on the AdH5 serotype, and simian adenoviral vectors offer an attractive option to overcome this problem. We constructed E1E3-deleted human and simian adenoviral vectors encoding the pre-erythrocytic-stage malarial antigen Plasmodium berghei circumsporozoite protein. We compared the immunogenicity and efficacy of AdC6, a recombinant simian adenovirus serotype 6 vector, in a murine malaria model to those of AdH5 and the poxviral vectors MVA and FP9. AdC6 induced sterile protection from a single dose in 90% of mice, in contrast to AdH5 (25%) and poxviral vectors MVA and FP9 (0%). Adenoviral vectors maintained potent CD8(+) T-cell responses for a longer period after immunization than did poxviral vectors and mainly induced an effector memory phenotype of cells. Significantly, AdC6 was able to maintain protection in the presence of preexisting immunity to AdH5.

Win TZ, Draper S, Read RL, Pearce J, Norbury CJ, Wang SW. 2006. Requirement of fission yeast Cid14 in polyadenylation of rRNAs. Mol Cell Biol, 26 (5), pp. 1710-1721. | Show Abstract | Read more

Polyadenylation in eukaryotes is conventionally associated with increased nuclear export, translation, and stability of mRNAs. In contrast, recent studies suggest that the Trf4 and Trf5 proteins, members of a widespread family of noncanonical poly(A) polymerases, share an essential function in Saccharomyces cerevisiae that involves polyadenylation of nuclear RNAs as part of a pathway of exosome-mediated RNA turnover. Substrates for this pathway include aberrantly modified tRNAs and precursors of snoRNAs and rRNAs. Here we show that Cid14 is a Trf4/5 functional homolog in the distantly related fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Unlike trf4 trf5 double mutants, cells lacking Cid14 are viable, though they suffer an increased frequency of chromosome missegregation. The Cid14 protein is constitutively nucleolar and is required for normal nucleolar structure. A minor population of polyadenylated rRNAs was identified. These RNAs accumulated in an exosome mutant, and their presence was largely dependent on Cid14, in line with a role for Cid14 in rRNA degradation. Surprisingly, both fully processed 25S rRNA and rRNA processing intermediates appear to be channeled into this pathway. Our data suggest that additional substrates may include the mRNAs of genes involved in meiotic regulation. Polyadenylation-assisted nuclear RNA turnover is therefore likely to be a common eukaryotic mechanism affecting diverse biological processes.

Moore AC, Gallimore A, Draper SJ, Watkins KR, Gilbert SC, Hill AV. 2005. Anti-CD25 antibody enhancement of vaccine-induced immunogenicity: increased durable cellular immunity with reduced immunodominance. J Immunol, 175 (11), pp. 7264-7273. | Show Abstract

An efficacious vaccine strategy must be capable of inducing strong responses of an appropriate phenotype that are long lasting and sufficiently broad to prevent pathogen escape mechanisms. In the present study, we use anti-CD25 mAb to augment vaccine-induced immunity in mice. We demonstrate that coformulation of Ab and poxviral- or adenoviral-vectored vaccines induces significantly increased T cell responses to a malaria Ag; prior anti-CD25 Ab administration was not required for this effect. Furthermore, this vaccination approach subverts immunodominant epitope hierarchies by enhancing responses to subdominant epitopes induced by recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara immunization. Administration of anti-CD25 with a vaccine also induces more durable immunity compared with vaccine alone; significantly higher T cell responses were observed 100 days after the primary immunization. Enhanced immunogenicity is observed for multiple vaccine types with enhanced CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses induced by bacillus Calmette-Guérin and a recombinant subunit protein vaccine to hepatitis B virus and with multiple Ags of tumor, viral, bacterial, and parasitic origin. Vaccine strategies incorporating anti-CD25 lead to improved protection against pre-erythrocytic malaria challenge. These data underpin new strategies for the design and development of more efficacious vaccines in clinical settings.

Spottiswoode N, Armitage AE, Williams AR, Fyfe AJ, Biswas S, Hodgson SH, Llewellyn D, Choudhary P, Draper SJ, Duffy P, Drakesmith H. 2017. The role of activins in hepcidin regulation during malaria. Infect Immun, pp. IAI.00191-17-IAI.00191-17. | Show Abstract | Read more

Epidemiological observations have linked increased host iron with malaria susceptibility, and perturbed iron handling has been hypothesized to contribute to the potentially life threatening anemia that may accompany blood-stage malaria infection. To improve our understanding of these relationships, we examined the pathways involved in regulation of the master controller of iron metabolism, the hormone hepcidin, in malaria infection. We show that hepcidin upregulation in Plasmodium berghei murine malaria infection was accompanied by changes in expression of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)/sons of mothers against decapentaplegic (SMAD) pathway target genes, a key pathway involved in hepcidin regulation. We therefore investigated known agonists of the BMP/SMAD pathway, and found that Bmp gene expression was not increased in infection. In contrast, activin B, which can signal through the BMP/SMAD pathway and has been associated with increased hepcidin during inflammation, was upregulated in the livers of Plasmodium berghei infected mice; hepatic activin B was also upregulated at peak parasitemia during infection with Plasmodium chabaudi Concentrations of the closely related protein activin A increased in parallel with hepcidin in serum from malaria-naïve volunteers infected in controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) clinical trials. However, antibody-mediated neutralization of activin activity during murine malaria infection did not affect hepcidin expression, suggesting that these proteins are unlikely to stimulate hepcidin upregulation directly. In conclusion, we present evidence that the BMP/SMAD signalling pathway is perturbed in malaria infection, but that activins, although raised in malaria infection, may not have a critical role in hepcidin upregulation in this setting.

Pasricha SR, Lim PJ, Duarte TL, Casu C, Oosterhuis D, Mleczko-Sanecka K, Suciu M, Da Silva AR, Al-Hourani K, Arezes J et al. 2017. Hepcidin is regulated by promoter-associated histone acetylation and HDAC3. Nat Commun, 8 (1), pp. 403. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hepcidin regulates systemic iron homeostasis. Suppression of hepcidin expression occurs physiologically in iron deficiency and increased erythropoiesis but is pathologic in thalassemia and hemochromatosis. Here we show that epigenetic events govern hepcidin expression. Erythropoiesis and iron deficiency suppress hepcidin via erythroferrone-dependent and -independent mechanisms, respectively, in vivo, but both involve reversible loss of H3K9ac and H3K4me3 at the hepcidin locus. In vitro, pan-histone deacetylase inhibition elevates hepcidin expression, and in vivo maintains H3K9ac at hepcidin-associated chromatin and abrogates hepcidin suppression by erythropoietin, iron deficiency, thalassemia, and hemochromatosis. Histone deacetylase 3 and its cofactor NCOR1 regulate hepcidin; histone deacetylase 3 binds chromatin at the hepcidin locus, and histone deacetylase 3 knockdown counteracts hepcidin suppression induced either by erythroferrone or by inhibiting bone morphogenetic protein signaling. In iron deficient mice, the histone deacetylase 3 inhibitor RGFP966 increases hepcidin, and RNA sequencing confirms hepcidin is one of the genes most differentially regulated by this drug in vivo. We conclude that suppression of hepcidin expression involves epigenetic regulation by histone deacetylase 3.Hepcidin controls systemic iron levels by inhibiting intestinal iron absorption and iron recycling. Here, Pasricha et al. demonstrate that the hepcidin-chromatin locus displays HDAC3-mediated reversible epigenetic modifications during both erythropoiesis and iron deficiency.

Payne RO, Silk SE, Elias SC, Milne KH, Rawlinson TA, Llewellyn D, Shakri AR, Jin J, Labbé GM, Edwards NJ et al. 2017. Human vaccination against Plasmodium vivax Duffy-binding protein induces strain-transcending antibodies. JCI Insight, 2 (12), | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax is the most widespread human malaria geographically; however, no effective vaccine exists. Red blood cell invasion by the P. vivax merozoite depends on an interaction between the Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) and region II of the parasite's Duffy-binding protein (PvDBP_RII). Naturally acquired binding-inhibitory antibodies against this interaction associate with clinical immunity, but it is unknown whether these responses can be induced by human vaccination. METHODS: Safety and immunogenicity of replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) viral vectored vaccines targeting PvDBP_RII (Salvador I strain) were assessed in an open-label dose-escalation phase Ia study in 24 healthy UK adults. Vaccines were delivered by the intramuscular route in a ChAd63-MVA heterologous prime-boost regimen using an 8-week interval. RESULTS: Both vaccines were well tolerated and demonstrated a favorable safety profile in malaria-naive adults. PvDBP_RII-specific ex-vivo IFN-γ T cell, antibody-secreting cell, memory B cell, and serum IgG responses were observed after the MVA boost immunization. Vaccine-induced antibodies inhibited the binding of vaccine homologous and heterologous variants of recombinant PvDBP_RII to the DARC receptor, with median 50% binding-inhibition titers greater than 1:100. CONCLUSION: We have demonstrated for the first time to our knowledge that strain-transcending antibodies can be induced against the PvDBP_RII antigen by vaccination in humans. These vaccine candidates warrant further clinical evaluation of efficacy against the blood-stage P. vivax parasite. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01816113. FUNDING: Support was provided by the UK Medical Research Council, UK National Institute of Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, and the Wellcome Trust.

Jin J, Hjerrild KA, Silk SE, Brown RE, Labbé GM, Marshall JM, Wright KE, Bezemer S, Clemmensen SB, Biswas S et al. 2017. Accelerating the clinical development of protein-based vaccines for malaria by efficient purification using a four amino acid C-terminal 'C-tag'. Int J Parasitol, 47 (7), pp. 435-446. | Show Abstract | Read more

Development of bespoke biomanufacturing processes remains a critical bottleneck for translational studies, in particular when modest quantities of a novel product are required for proof-of-concept Phase I/II clinical trials. In these instances the ability to develop a biomanufacturing process quickly and relatively cheaply, without risk to product quality or safety, provides a great advantage by allowing new antigens or concepts in immunogen design to more rapidly enter human testing. These challenges with production and purification are particularly apparent when developing recombinant protein-based vaccines for difficult parasitic diseases, with Plasmodium falciparum malaria being a prime example. To that end, we have previously reported the expression of a novel protein vaccine for malaria using the ExpreS(2)Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 stable cell line system, however, a very low overall process yield (typically <5% recovery of hexa-histidine-tagged protein) meant the initial purification strategy was not suitable for scale-up and clinical biomanufacture of such a vaccine. Here we describe a newly available affinity purification method that was ideally suited to purification of the same protein which encodes the P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 - currently the leading antigen for assessment in next generation vaccines aiming to prevent red blood cell invasion by the blood-stage parasite. This purification system makes use of a C-terminal tag known as 'C-tag', composed of the four amino acids, glutamic acid - proline - glutamic acid - alanine (E-P-E-A), which is selectively purified on a CaptureSelect™ affinity resin coupled to a camelid single chain antibody, called NbSyn2. The C-terminal fusion of this short C-tag to P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 achieved >85% recovery and >70% purity in a single step purification directly from clarified, concentrated Schneider 2 cell supernatant under mild conditions. Biochemical and immunological analysis showed that the C-tagged and hexa-histidine-tagged P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 proteins are comparable. The C-tag technology has the potential to form the basis of a current good manufacturing practice-compliant platform, which could greatly improve the speed and ease with which novel protein-based products progress to clinical testing.

Campeotto I, Goldenzweig A, Davey J, Barfod L, Marshall JM, Silk SE, Wright KE, Draper SJ, Higgins MK, Fleishman SJ. 2017. One-step design of a stable variant of the malaria invasion protein RH5 for use as a vaccine immunogen. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114 (5), pp. 998-1002. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many promising vaccine candidates from pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and parasites are unstable and cannot be produced cheaply for clinical use. For instance, Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) is essential for erythrocyte invasion, is highly conserved among field isolates, and elicits antibodies that neutralize in vitro and protect in an animal model, making it a leading malaria vaccine candidate. However, functional RH5 is only expressible in eukaryotic systems and exhibits moderate temperature tolerance, limiting its usefulness in hot and low-income countries where malaria prevails. Current approaches to immunogen stabilization involve iterative application of rational or semirational design, random mutagenesis, and biochemical characterization. Typically, each round of optimization yields minor improvement in stability, and multiple rounds are required. In contrast, we developed a one-step design strategy using phylogenetic analysis and Rosetta atomistic calculations to design PfRH5 variants with improved packing and surface polarity. To demonstrate the robustness of this approach, we tested three PfRH5 designs, all of which showed improved stability relative to wild type. The best, bearing 18 mutations relative to PfRH5, expressed in a folded form in bacteria at >1 mg of protein per L of culture, and had 10-15 °C higher thermal tolerance than wild type, while also retaining ligand binding and immunogenic properties indistinguishable from wild type, proving its value as an immunogen for a future generation of vaccines against the malaria blood stage. We envision that this efficient computational stability design methodology will also be used to enhance the biophysical properties of other recalcitrant vaccine candidates from emerging pathogens.

Payne RO, Griffin PM, McCarthy JS, Draper SJ. 2017. Plasmodium vivax Controlled Human Malaria Infection - Progress and Prospects. Trends Parasitol, 33 (2), pp. 141-150. | Show Abstract | Read more

Modern controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) clinical trials have almost entirely focussed on Plasmodium falciparum, providing a highly informative means to investigate host-pathogen interactions as well as assess potential new prophylactic and therapeutic interventions. However, in recent years, there has been renewed interest in Plasmodium vivax, with CHMI models developed by groups in Colombia, the USA, and Australia. This review summarizes the published experiences, and examines the advantages and disadvantages of the different models that initiate infection either by mosquito bite or using a blood-stage inoculum. As for P. falciparum, CHMI studies with P. vivax will provide a platform for early proof-of-concept testing of drugs and vaccines, accelerating the development of novel interventions.

Ewer K, Rampling T, Venkatraman N, Bowyer G, Wright D, Lambe T, Imoukhuede EB, Payne R, Fehling SK, Strecker T et al. 2016. A Monovalent Chimpanzee Adenovirus Ebola Vaccine Boosted with MVA. N Engl J Med, 374 (17), pp. 1635-1646. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The West African outbreak of Ebola virus disease that peaked in 2014 has caused more than 11,000 deaths. The development of an effective Ebola vaccine is a priority for control of a future outbreak. METHODS: In this phase 1 study, we administered a single dose of the chimpanzee adenovirus 3 (ChAd3) vaccine encoding the surface glycoprotein of Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) to 60 healthy adult volunteers in Oxford, United Kingdom. The vaccine was administered in three dose levels--1×10(10) viral particles, 2.5×10(10) viral particles, and 5×10(10) viral particles--with 20 participants in each group. We then assessed the effect of adding a booster dose of a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) strain, encoding the same Ebola virus glycoprotein, in 30 of the 60 participants and evaluated a reduced prime-boost interval in another 16 participants. We also compared antibody responses to inactivated whole Ebola virus virions and neutralizing antibody activity with those observed in phase 1 studies of a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-based vaccine expressing a ZEBOV glycoprotein (rVSV-ZEBOV) to determine relative potency and assess durability. RESULTS: No safety concerns were identified at any of the dose levels studied. Four weeks after immunization with the ChAd3 vaccine, ZEBOV-specific antibody responses were similar to those induced by rVSV-ZEBOV vaccination, with a geometric mean titer of 752 and 921, respectively. ZEBOV neutralization activity was also similar with the two vaccines (geometric mean titer, 14.9 and 22.2, respectively). Boosting with the MVA vector increased virus-specific antibodies by a factor of 12 (geometric mean titer, 9007) and increased glycoprotein-specific CD8+ T cells by a factor of 5. Significant increases in neutralizing antibodies were seen after boosting in all 30 participants (geometric mean titer, 139; P<0.001). Virus-specific antibody responses in participants primed with ChAd3 remained positive 6 months after vaccination (geometric mean titer, 758) but were significantly higher in those who had received the MVA booster (geometric mean titer, 1750; P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The ChAd3 vaccine boosted with MVA elicited B-cell and T-cell immune responses to ZEBOV that were superior to those induced by the ChAd3 vaccine alone. (Funded by the Wellcome Trust and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02240875.).

Payne RO, Milne KH, Elias SC, Edwards NJ, Douglas AD, Brown RE, Silk SE, Biswas S, Miura K, Roberts R et al. 2016. Demonstration of the Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum Controlled Human Malaria Infection Model to Assess Efficacy of the P. falciparum Apical Membrane Antigen 1 Vaccine, FMP2.1/AS01. J Infect Dis, 213 (11), pp. 1743-1751. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Models of controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) initiated by mosquito bite have been widely used to assess efficacy of preerythrocytic vaccine candidates in small proof-of-concept phase 2a clinical trials. Efficacy testing of blood-stage malaria parasite vaccines, however, has generally relied on larger-scale phase 2b field trials in malaria-endemic populations. We report the use of a blood-stage P. falciparum CHMI model to assess blood-stage vaccine candidates, using their impact on the parasite multiplication rate (PMR) as the primary efficacy end point. METHODS: Fifteen healthy United Kingdom adult volunteers were vaccinated with FMP2.1, a protein vaccine that is based on the 3D7 clone sequence of apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and formulated in Adjuvant System 01 (AS01). Twelve vaccinees and 15 infectivity controls subsequently underwent blood-stage CHMI. Parasitemia was monitored by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, and PMR was modeled from these data. RESULTS: FMP2.1/AS01 elicited anti-AMA1 T-cell and serum antibody responses. Analysis of purified immunoglobulin G showed functional growth inhibitory activity against P. falciparum in vitro. There were no vaccine- or CHMI-related safety concerns. All volunteers developed blood-stage parasitemia, with no impact of the vaccine on PMR. CONCLUSIONS: FMP2.1/AS01 demonstrated no efficacy after blood-stage CHMI. However, the model induced highly reproducible infection in all volunteers and will accelerate proof-of-concept testing of future blood-stage vaccine candidates. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT02044198.

Murungi LM, Sondén K, Llewellyn D, Rono J, Guleid F, Williams AR, Ogada E, Thairu A, Färnert A, Marsh K et al. 2016. Targets and Mechanisms Associated with Protection from Severe Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in Kenyan Children. Infect Immun, 84 (4), pp. 950-963. | Show Abstract | Read more

Severe malaria (SM) is a life-threatening complication of infection with Plasmodium falciparum Epidemiological observations have long indicated that immunity against SM is acquired relatively rapidly, but prospective studies to investigate its immunological basis are logistically challenging and have rarely been undertaken. We investigated the merozoite targets and antibody-mediated mechanisms associated with protection against SM in Kenyan children aged 0 to 2 years. We designed a unique prospective matched case-control study of well-characterized SM clinical phenotypes nested within a longitudinal birth cohort of children (n= 5,949) monitored over the first 2 years of life. We quantified immunological parameters in sera collected before the SM event in cases and their individually matched controls to evaluate the prospective odds of developing SM in the first 2 years of life. Anti-AMA1 antibodies were associated with a significant reduction in the odds of developing SM (odds ratio [OR] = 0.37; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.15 to 0.90; P= 0.029) after adjustment for responses to all other merozoite antigens tested, while those against MSP-2, MSP-3, Plasmodium falciparum Rh2 [PfRh2], MSP-119, and the infected red blood cell surface antigens were not. The combined ability of total IgG to inhibit parasite growth and mediate the release of reactive oxygen species from neutrophils was associated with a marked reduction in the odds of developing SM (OR = 0.07; 95% CI = 0.006 to 0.82;P= 0.03). Assays of these two functional mechanisms were poorly correlated (Spearman rank correlation coefficient [rs] = 0.12;P= 0.07). Our data provide epidemiological evidence that multiple antibody-dependent mechanisms contribute to protective immunity via distinct targets whose identification could accelerate the development of vaccines to protect against SM.

Draper SJ, Angov E, Horii T, Miller LH, Srinivasan P, Theisen M, Biswas S. 2015. Recent advances in recombinant protein-based malaria vaccines. Vaccine, 33 (52), pp. 7433-7443. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium parasites are the causative agent of human malaria, and the development of a highly effective vaccine against infection, disease and transmission remains a key priority. It is widely established that multiple stages of the parasite's complex lifecycle within the human host and mosquito vector are susceptible to vaccine-induced antibodies. The mainstay approach to antibody induction by subunit vaccination has been the delivery of protein antigen formulated in adjuvant. Extensive efforts have been made in this endeavor with respect to malaria vaccine development, especially with regard to target antigen discovery, protein expression platforms, adjuvant testing, and development of soluble and virus-like particle (VLP) delivery platforms. The breadth of approaches to protein-based vaccines is continuing to expand as innovative new concepts in next-generation subunit design are explored, with the prospects for the development of a highly effective multi-component/multi-stage/multi-antigen formulation seeming ever more likely. This review will focus on recent progress in protein vaccine design, development and/or clinical testing for a number of leading malaria antigens from the sporozoite-, merozoite- and sexual-stages of the parasite's lifecycle-including PfCelTOS, PfMSP1, PfAMA1, PfRH5, PfSERA5, PfGLURP, PfMSP3, Pfs48/45 and Pfs25. Future prospects and challenges for the development, production, human delivery and assessment of protein-based malaria vaccines are discussed.

Llewellyn D, Miura K, Fay MP, Williams AR, Murungi LM, Shi J, Hodgson SH, Douglas AD, Osier FH, Fairhurst RM et al. 2015. Standardization of the antibody-dependent respiratory burst assay with human neutrophils and Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 14081. | Show Abstract | Read more

The assessment of naturally-acquired and vaccine-induced immunity to blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria is of long-standing interest. However, the field has suffered from a paucity of in vitro assays that reproducibly measure the anti-parasitic activity induced by antibodies in conjunction with immune cells. Here we optimize the antibody-dependent respiratory burst (ADRB) assay, which assesses the ability of antibodies to activate the release of reactive oxygen species from human neutrophils in response to P. falciparum blood-stage parasites. We focus particularly on assay parameters affecting serum preparation and concentration, and importantly assess reproducibility. Our standardized protocol involves testing each serum sample in singlicate with three independent neutrophil donors, and indexing responses against a standard positive control of pooled hyper-immune Kenyan sera. The protocol can be used to quickly screen large cohorts of samples from individuals enrolled in immuno-epidemiological studies or clinical vaccine trials, and requires only 6 μL of serum per sample. Using a cohort of 86 samples, we show that malaria-exposed individuals induce higher ADRB activity than malaria-naïve individuals. The development of the ADRB assay complements the use of cell-independent assays in blood-stage malaria, such as the assay of growth inhibitory activity, and provides an important standardized cell-based assay in the field.

Douglas AD, Baldeviano GC, Lucas CM, Lugo-Roman LA, Crosnier C, Bartholdson SJ, Diouf A, Miura K, Lambert LE, Ventocilla JA et al. 2015. A PfRH5-based vaccine is efficacious against heterologous strain blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infection in aotus monkeys. Cell Host Microbe, 17 (1), pp. 130-139. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antigenic diversity has posed a critical barrier to vaccine development against the pathogenic blood-stage infection of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. To date, only strain-specific protection has been reported by trials of such vaccines in nonhuman primates. We recently showed that P. falciparum reticulocyte binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5), a merozoite adhesin required for erythrocyte invasion, is highly susceptible to vaccine-inducible strain-transcending parasite-neutralizing antibody. In vivo efficacy of PfRH5-based vaccines has not previously been evaluated. Here, we demonstrate that PfRH5-based vaccines can protect Aotus monkeys against a virulent vaccine-heterologous P. falciparum challenge and show that such protection can be achieved by a human-compatible vaccine formulation. Protection was associated with anti-PfRH5 antibody concentration and in vitro parasite-neutralizing activity, supporting the use of this in vitro assay to predict the in vivo efficacy of future vaccine candidates. These data suggest that PfRH5-based vaccines have potential to achieve strain-transcending efficacy in humans.

Wright KE, Hjerrild KA, Bartlett J, Douglas AD, Jin J, Brown RE, Illingworth JJ, Ashfield R, Clemmensen SB, de Jongh WA et al. 2014. Structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies. Nature, 515 (7527), pp. 427-430. | Show Abstract | Read more

Invasion of host erythrocytes is essential to the life cycle of Plasmodium parasites and development of the pathology of malaria. The stages of erythrocyte invasion, including initial contact, apical reorientation, junction formation, and active invagination, are directed by coordinated release of specialized apical organelles and their parasite protein contents. Among these proteins, and central to invasion by all species, are two parasite protein families, the reticulocyte-binding protein homologue (RH) and erythrocyte-binding like proteins, which mediate host-parasite interactions. RH5 from Plasmodium falciparum (PfRH5) is the only member of either family demonstrated to be necessary for erythrocyte invasion in all tested strains, through its interaction with the erythrocyte surface protein basigin (also known as CD147 and EMMPRIN). Antibodies targeting PfRH5 or basigin efficiently block parasite invasion in vitro, making PfRH5 an excellent vaccine candidate. Here we present crystal structures of PfRH5 in complex with basigin and two distinct inhibitory antibodies. PfRH5 adopts a novel fold in which two three-helical bundles come together in a kite-like architecture, presenting binding sites for basigin and inhibitory antibodies at one tip. This provides the first structural insight into erythrocyte binding by the Plasmodium RH protein family and identifies novel inhibitory epitopes to guide design of a new generation of vaccines against the blood-stage parasite.

237

Thank you for registering your interest

We were unable to record your request to register for interest in future opportunities. Please try again and if problems persist contact us at webteam@ndm.ox.ac.uk