An improved COVID-19 vaccine reveals promise in opposition to Omicron in experimental fashions

In a current research revealed within the journal Science Translational Medication, researchers in the USA designed a bivalent coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine on the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) platform.

This mRNA-lipid nanoparticle (LNP) vaccine encoded a full-length nucleocapsid (N) protein of extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) ancestral pressure Wuhan-Hu1. They evaluated its immunogenicity and efficacy in mice and hamster fashions in opposition to all SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) alone and mixed with the present clinically used mRNA-based vaccines based mostly on spike (S) protein.

An improved COVID-19 vaccine reveals promise in opposition to Omicron in experimental fashionsExamine: Twin spike and nucleocapsid mRNA vaccination confer safety in opposition to SARS-CoV-2 Omicron and Delta variants in preclinical fashions. Picture Credit score: Orpheus FX / Shutterstock


All COVID-19 vaccines combating SARS-CoV-2 infections goal the SARS-CoV-2 S protein or its receptor binding area (RBD) for eliciting a potent neutralizing antibody (nAb) response. Thus, the researchers hypothesized {that a} vaccine concentrating on a extra conserved SARS-CoV-2 protein or multivalent vaccines would offer broader safety in opposition to newly-emerging extremely mutated SARS-CoV-2 variants. The SARS-CoV-2 N protein is a extremely conserved and potent immunogen proven to set off a robust T cell response, which makes it an excellent candidate for incorporation into next-generation vaccines.

In regards to the research

Within the current research, researchers evaluated the immunogenicity of mRNA-N vaccine formulation in BALB/c mice. They created two teams, with seven mice every, and vaccinated them with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) (mock) or 1 μg of m-RNA N vaccine intramuscularly (IM) at week zero (prime) and week 3 (booster). Following major vaccination, the group collected serum samples for antibody evaluation. After booster vaccination, they euthanized mice for additional immunological analyses.

The group examined the T cell responses in splenocytes by move cytometry. Likewise, they measured the N-specific T cell response by intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) of splenocytes. As well as, they carried out an interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay to judge the mRNA-N vaccine-induced T cell responses.

Moreover, the researchers used an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to find out antibody titers of N-specific–binding immunoglobulin G (IgG). The group carried out related vaccine evaluations in opposition to the SARS-CoV-2 Delta VOC in Syrian hamsters.

Examine findings

The mRNA-N was extremely immunogenic however solely reasonably managed SARS-CoV-2 an infection. Nevertheless, the mixture mRNA-S+N vaccination extra robustly managed the SARS-CoV-2 Delta and Omicron VOCs within the lungs of contaminated mice than mRNA-S alone and offered further safety in opposition to each variants leading to decreased viral load of their higher respiratory tract (URT).

Dual spike and nucleocapsid mRNA vaccination confer protection against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron and Delta variants in preclinical modelsTwin spike and nucleocapsid mRNA vaccination confer safety in opposition to SARS-CoV-2 Omicron and Delta variants in preclinical fashions

The research offered appreciable proof suggesting the involvement of T cells within the mRNA-S+N vaccine-induced safety in opposition to SARS-CoV-2 variants. As an illustration, mRNA-N alone induced modest safety in opposition to each SARS-CoV-2 and Delta strains within the absence of neutralizing antibodies. Likewise, the outcomes of in vivo cell depletion evaluation urged the potential involvement of a cluster of differentiation 8 (CD8+) T cells within the mRNA-S+N vaccine-induced immune safety. The authors carried out an antigen-specific immune evaluation and noticed that the induction of N-specific immunity with enhanced S-specific immunity helped bivalent mRNA vaccine mount a extra vigorous immune response.

Intriguingly, the mRNA S-based vaccine and the mixture vaccine (mRNA-S+N) had related mRNA-S doses, but, it augmented S-specific immunity. One speculation is that cross-priming results occurred between N and S antigens following vaccination by the mRNA-S+N vaccine. Additionally it is possible that mRNA-N co-immunization induced an immune setting that favored the event of S-specific immunity. Nevertheless, future research ought to examine all of the occasions following mixed mRNA-S+N vaccination, together with antigen presentation and stimulation of the innate and inflammatory responses.


The research highlighted that because the mRNA-LNP platform has been examined and proven a good security profile in a number of medical research in people, this method might be quickly made clinically viable in opposition to yet-to-emerge SARS-CoV-2 VOCs. Earlier research have demonstrated challenges in designing COVID-19 vaccines with VOC-specific sequences. The vaccine examined within the present research had mRNA-N and mRNA-S amino acid sequences from the Wuhan-Hu-1. But, it elicited sturdy safety in opposition to each Delta and Omicron VOCs, which was exemplary. Additional testing of the mixture vaccine method in non-human primates (NHPs) would offer extra alternatives to judge its security and efficacy.

In hamsters challenged by SARS-CoV-2 VOCs, the mixed mRNA-S+N vaccine induced sturdy viral management within the lungs. Nevertheless, its additive antiviral impact appeared to decrease in URT. Subsequently, future research ought to examine heterologous vaccination approaches involving completely different vaccine platforms and immunization routes. As an illustration, vaccination methods utilizing IM, intranasal and oral supply routes to enhance safety in opposition to VOCs within the URT.

Journal reference:

  • Twin spike and nucleocapsid mRNA vaccination confer safety in opposition to SARS-CoV-2 Omicron and Delta variants in preclinical fashions, Renee L. Hajnik, Jessica A. Plante, Yuejin Liang, Mohamad-Gabriel Alameh, Jinyi Tang, Srinivasa Reddy Bonam, Chaojie Zhong, Awadalkareem Adam, Dionna Scharton, Grace H. Rafael, Yang Liu, Nicholas C. Hazell, Jiaren Solar, Lynn Soong, Pei-Yong Shi, Tian Wang, David H. Walker, Jie Solar, Drew Weissman, Scott C. Weaver, Kenneth S. Plante, Haitao Hu, Science Translational Medication 2022, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abq1945,

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