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Multi-clade H5N1 virus-like particles: Immunogenicity and protection against H5N1 virus and effects of beta-propiolactone

Pushko, Peter, Tretyakova, Irina, Hidajat, Rachmat, Sun, Xiangjie, Belser, Jessica A., Tumpey, Terrence M.
Vaccine 2018 v.36 no.29 pp. 4346-4353
Baculoviridae, Influenza A virus, avian influenza, enzyme activity, ferrets, hemagglutination, hemagglutinins, immunogenicity, models, pandemic, particle size, sialidase, vaccines, virus-like particles, viruses
During the past decade, H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses have diversified genetically and antigenically, suggesting the need for multiple H5N1 vaccines. However, preparation of multiple vaccines from live H5N1 HPAI viruses is difficult and economically not feasible representing a challenge for pandemic preparedness. Here we evaluated a novel multi-clade recombinant H5N1 virus-like particle (VLP) design, in which H5 hemagglutinins (HA) and N1 neuraminidase (NA) derived from four distinct clades of H5N1 virus were co-localized within the VLP structure. The multi-clade H5N1 VLPs were prepared by using a recombinant baculovirus expression system and evaluated for functional hemagglutination and neuraminidase enzyme activities, particle size and morphology, as well as for the presence of baculovirus in the purified VLP preparations. To remove residual baculovirus, VLP preparations were treated with beta-propiolactone (BPL). Immunogenicity and efficacy of multi-clade H5N1 VLPs were determined in an experimental ferret H5N1 HPAI challenge model, to ascertain the effect of BPL on immunogenicity and protective efficacy against lethal challenge. Although treatment with BPL reduced immunogenicity of VLPs, all vaccinated ferrets were protected from lethal challenge with influenza A/VietNam/1203/2004 (H5N1) HPAI virus, indicating that multi-clade VLP preparations treated with BPL represent a potential approach for pandemic preparedness vaccines.