<p>MERS-CoV continues to cause human outbreaks, so far in 27 countries worldwide following the first registered epidemic in Saudi Arabia in 2012. In this study, we produced a nanovaccine based on virus-like particles (VLPs). VLPs are safe vaccine platforms as they lack any replication-competent genetic material, and are used since many years against hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis E virus (HEV) and human papilloma virus (HPV). In order to produce a vaccine that is readily scalable, we genetically fused the receptor-binding motif (RBM) of MERS-CoV spike protein into the surface of cucumber-mosaic virus VLPs. The employed CuMV<sub>TT</sub>-VLPs represent a new immunologically optimized vaccine platform incorporating a universal T cell epitope derived from tetanus toxin (TT). The resultant vaccine candidate (mCuMV<sub>TT</sub>-MERS) is a mosaic particle and consists of unmodified wild type monomers and genetically modified monomers displaying RBM, co-assembling within E. coli upon expression. mCuMV<sub>TT</sub>-MERS vaccine is self-adjuvanted with ssRNA, a TLR7/8 ligand which is spontaneously packaged during the bacterial expression process. The developed vaccine candidate induced high anti-RBD and anti-spike antibodies in a murine model, showing high binding avidity and an ability to completely neutralize MERS-CoV/EMC/2012 isolate, demonstrating the protective potential of the vaccine candidate for dromedaries and humans.</p>

doi.org/10.1038/s41541-021-00365-w, hdl.handle.net/1765/135837
npj Vaccines
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Mona O. Mohsen, Dominik Rothen, Ina Balke, B.E.E. (Byron) Martina, Vilija Zeltina, Varghese Inchakalody, … Martin F. Bachmann. (2021). Neutralization of MERS coronavirus through a scalable nanoparticle vaccine. npj Vaccines, 6(1). doi:10.1038/s41541-021-00365-w