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Potent Neutralizing Antibodies Elicited by RBD-Fc-Based COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Adjuvanted by the Th2-Skewing iNKT Cell Agonist

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posted on 19.07.2021, 19:11 by Xi-Feng Wang, Meng-Jia Zhang, Na He, Ya-Cong Wang, Cheng Yan, Xiang-Zhao Chen, Xiao-Fei Gao, Jun Guo, Rui Luo, Zheng Liu
The development of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is of paramount importance to terminate the current pandemic. An adjuvant is crucial for improving the efficacy of the subunit COVID19 vaccine. α-Galactosylceramide (αGC) is a classical iNKT cell agonist which causes the rapid production of Th1- and Th2-associated cytokines; we, therefore, expect that the Th1- or Th2-skewing analogues of αGC can better enhance the immunogenicity of the receptor-binding domain in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 fused with the Fc region of human IgG (RBD-Fc). Herein, we developed a universal synthetic route to the Th1-biasing (α-C-GC) and Th2-biasing (OCH and C20:2) analogues. Immunization of mice demonstrated that αGC-adjuvanted RBD-Fc elicited a more potent humoral response than that observed with Alum and enabled the sparing of antigens. Remarkably, at a low dose of the RBD-Fc protein (2 μg), the Th2-biasing agonist C20:2 induced a significantly higher titer of the neutralizing antibody than that of Alum.

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