Associate Professor Katie Ewer

Research Area: Immunology
Technology Exchange: Cellular immunology, Flow cytometry and Vaccine production and evaluation
Scientific Themes: Immunology & Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: Pre-erythrocytic malaria, Ebola, Vectored vaccines, Correlates of protection and CD8+ T cells
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As the senior immunologist for the Ebola and pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine trials, I oversee the immunology on Phase I and II trials of vectored vaccines, both in the UK and in field trials in Africa. We use the chimpanzee adenovirus, ChAd63, as a priming vector and modified vaccinia virus (MVA) as a boosting vaccination and these viruses encode proteins from the organism that can elicit protective immune responses in our vaccinated volunteers.

The aim of my research is to define vaccine-induced immunological parameters that correlate with protection from malaria. I have access to samples from our volunteers that I can study using methods such as ELISPOT, flow cytometry and transcriptional profiling. By combining data from these different assays and analysing how these different measures relate to protection against malaria, I have been able to define the function and phenotype of T cells that are associated with protection in our human challenge model.

These findings can then be relayed back through the vaccine development process to improve the immunogenicity of our viral vectors for future trials and hopefully increase vaccine efficacy.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Adrian VS Hill Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus 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
Dr Teresa Lambe Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Dr Alexandra J Spencer Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Simon J Draper Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Arturo Reyes-Sandoval Jenner Institute Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building for Molecular Physiology United Kingdom
Professor Andrew Pollard Jenner Institute Oxford University, Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Sumi Biswas Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Dr Matthew Snape Jenner Institute Oxford University, Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine United Kingdom
Rodríguez-Galán A, Salman AM, Bowyer G, Collins KA, Longley RJ, Brod F, Ulaszewska M, Ewer KJ, Janse CJ, Khan SM et al. 2017. An in vitro assay to measure antibody-mediated inhibition of P. berghei sporozoite invasion against P. falciparum antigens. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 17011. | Show Abstract | Read more

A large research effort is currently underway to find an effective and affordable malaria vaccine. Tools that enable the rapid evaluation of protective immune responses are essential to vaccine development as they can provide selection criteria to rank order vaccine candidates. In this study we have revisited the Inhibition of Sporozoite Invasion (ISI) assay to assess the ability of antibodies to inhibit sporozoite infection of hepatocytes. By using GFP expressing sporozoites of the rodent parasite P. berghei we are able to robustly quantify parasite infection of hepatocyte cell lines by flow cytometry. In conjunction with recently produced transgenic P. berghei parasites that express P. falciparum sporozoite antigens, we have been able to use this assay to measure antibody mediated inhibition of sporozoite invasion against one of the lead malaria antigens P. falciparum CSP. By combining chimeric rodent parasites expressing P. falciparum antigens and a flow cytometric readout of infection, we are able to robustly assess vaccine-induced antibodies, from mice, rhesus macaques and human clinical trials, for their functional ability to block sporozoite invasion of hepatocytes.

Ewer K, Sebastian S, Spencer AJ, Gilbert S, Hill AVS, Lambe T. 2017. Chimpanzee adenoviral vectors as vaccines for outbreak pathogens. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 13 (12), pp. 3020-3032. | Show Abstract | Read more

The 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa highlighted the potential for large disease outbreaks caused by emerging pathogens and has generated considerable focus on preparedness for future epidemics. Here we discuss drivers, strategies and practical considerations for developing vaccines against outbreak pathogens. Chimpanzee adenoviral (ChAd) vectors have been developed as vaccine candidates for multiple infectious diseases and prostate cancer. ChAd vectors are safe and induce antigen-specific cellular and humoral immunity in all age groups, as well as circumventing the problem of pre-existing immunity encountered with human Ad vectors. For these reasons, such viral vectors provide an attractive platform for stockpiling vaccines for emergency deployment in response to a threatened outbreak of an emerging pathogen. Work is already underway to develop vaccines against a number of other outbreak pathogens and we will also review progress on these approaches here, particularly for Lassa fever, Nipah and MERS.

Lambe T, Bowyer G, Ewer KJ. 2017. A review of Phase I trials of Ebola virus vaccines: what can we learn from the race to develop novel vaccines? Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 372 (1721), pp. 20160295-20160295. | Show Abstract | Read more

Sporadic outbreaks of Ebola virus infection have been documented since the mid-Seventies and viral exposure can lead to lethal haemorrhagic fever with case fatalities as high as 90%. There is now a comprehensive body of data from both ongoing and completed clinical trials assessing various vaccine strategies, which were rapidly advanced through clinical trials in response to the 2013-2016 Ebola virus disease (EVD) public health emergency. Careful consideration of immunogenicity post vaccination is essential but has been somewhat stifled because of the wide array of immunological assays and outputs that have been used in the numerous clinical trials. We discuss here the different aspects of the immune assays currently used in the Phase I clinical trials for Ebola virus vaccines, and draw comparisons across the immune outputs where possible; various trials have examined both cellular and humoral immunity in European and African cohorts. Assessment of the safety data, the immunological outputs and the ease of field deployment for the various vaccine modalities will help both the scientific community and policy-makers prioritize and potentially license vaccine candidates. If this can be achieved, the next outbreak of Ebola virus, or other emerging pathogen, can be more readily contained and will not have such widespread and devastating consequences.This article is part of the themed issue 'The 2013-2016 West African Ebola epidemic: data, decision-making and disease control'.

Ford T, Wenden C, Mbekeani A, Dally L, Cox JH, Morin M, Winstone N, Hill AVS, Gilmour J, Ewer KJ. 2017. Cryopreservation-related loss of antigen-specific IFNγ producing CD4+ T-cells can skew immunogenicity data in vaccine trials: Lessons from a malaria vaccine trial substudy. Vaccine, 35 (15), pp. 1898-1906. | Show Abstract | Read more

Ex vivo functional immunoassays such as ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) by flow cytometry are crucial tools in vaccine development both in the identification of novel immunogenic targets and in the immunological assessment of samples from clinical trials. Cryopreservation and subsequent thawing of PBMCs via validated processes has become a mainstay of clinical trials due to processing restrictions inherent in the disparate location and capacity of trial centres, and also in the need to standardize biological assays at central testing facilities. Logistical and financial requirement to batch process samples from multiple study timepoints are also key. We used ELISpot and ICS assays to assess antigen-specific immunogenicity in blood samples taken from subjects enrolled in a phase II malaria heterologous prime-boost vaccine trial and showed that the freeze thaw process can result in a 3-5-fold reduction of malaria antigen-specific IFNγ-producing CD3+CD4+ effector populations from PBMC samples taken post vaccination. We have also demonstrated that peptide responsive CD8+ T cells are relatively unaffected, as well as CD4+ T cell populations that do not produce IFNγ. These findings contribute to a growing body of data that could be consolidated and synthesised as guidelines for clinical trials with the aim of increasing the efficiency of vaccine development pipelines.

Longley RJ, Halbroth BR, Salman AM, Ewer KJ, Hodgson SH, Janse CJ, Khan SM, Hill AVS, Spencer AJ. 2017. Assessment of the Plasmodium falciparum Preerythrocytic Antigen UIS3 as a Potential Candidate for a Malaria Vaccine. Infect Immun, 85 (3), pp. e00641-16-e00641-16. | Show Abstract | Read more

Efforts are under way to improve the efficacy of subunit malaria vaccines through assessments of new adjuvants, vaccination platforms, and antigens. In this study, we further assessed the Plasmodium falciparum antigen upregulated in infective sporozoites 3 (PfUIS3) as a vaccine candidate. PfUIS3 was expressed in the viral vectors chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) and used to immunize mice in a prime-boost regimen. We previously demonstrated that this regimen could provide partial protection against challenge with chimeric P. berghei parasites expressing PfUIS3. We now show that ChAd63-MVA PfUIS3 can also provide partial cross-species protection against challenge with wild-type P. berghei parasites. We also show that PfUIS3-specific cellular memory responses could be recalled in human volunteers exposed to P. falciparum parasites in a controlled human malaria infection study. When ChAd63-MVA PfUIS3 was coadministered with the vaccine candidate P. falciparum thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (PfTRAP) expressed in the ChAd63-MVA system, there was no significant change in immunogenicity to either vaccine. However, when mice were challenged with double chimeric P. berghei-P. falciparum parasites expressing both PfUIS3 and PfTRAP, vaccine efficacy was improved to 100% sterile protection. This synergistic effect was evident only when the two vaccines were mixed and administered at the same site. We have therefore demonstrated that vaccination with PfUIS3 can induce a consistent delay in patent parasitemia across mouse strains and against chimeric parasites expressing PfUIS3 as well as wild-type P. berghei; when this vaccine is combined with another partially protective regimen (ChAd63-MVA PfTRAP), complete protection is induced.

Bliss CM, Drammeh A, Bowyer G, Sanou GS, Jagne YJ, Ouedraogo O, Edwards NJ, Tarama C, Ouedraogo N, Ouedraogo M et al. 2017. Viral Vector Malaria Vaccines Induce High-Level T Cell and Antibody Responses in West African Children and Infants. Mol Ther, 25 (2), pp. 547-559. | Show Abstract | Read more

Heterologous prime-boosting with viral vectors encoding the pre-erythrocytic antigen thrombospondin-related adhesion protein fused to a multiple epitope string (ME-TRAP) induces CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity to malaria sporozoite challenge in European malaria-naive and Kenyan semi-immune adults. This approach has yet to be evaluated in children and infants. We assessed this vaccine strategy among 138 Gambian and Burkinabe children in four cohorts: 2- to 6-year olds in The Gambia, 5- to 17-month-olds in Burkina Faso, and 5- to 12-month-olds and 10-week-olds in The Gambia. We assessed induction of cellular immunity, taking into account the distinctive hematological status of young infants, and characterized the antibody response to vaccination. T cell responses peaked 7 days after boosting with modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), with highest responses in infants aged 10 weeks at priming. Incorporating lymphocyte count into the calculation of T cell responses facilitated a more physiologically relevant comparison of cellular immunity across different age groups. Both CD8+ and CD4+ T cells secreted cytokines. Induced antibodies were up to 20-fold higher in all groups compared with Gambian and United Kingdom (UK) adults, with comparable or higher avidity. This immunization regimen elicited strong immune responses, particularly in young infants, supporting future evaluation of efficacy in this key target age group for a malaria vaccine.

Rampling T, Ewer KJ, Bowyer G, Bliss CM, Edwards NJ, Wright D, Payne RO, Venkatraman N, de Barra E, Snudden CM et al. 2016. Safety and High Level Efficacy of the Combination Malaria Vaccine Regimen of RTS,S/AS01B With Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 and Modified Vaccinia Ankara Vectored Vaccines Expressing ME-TRAP. J Infect Dis, 214 (5), pp. 772-781. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The need for a highly efficacious vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum remains pressing. In this controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) study, we assessed the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of a schedule combining 2 distinct vaccine types in a staggered immunization regimen: one inducing high-titer antibodies to circumsporozoite protein (RTS,S/AS01B) and the other inducing potent T-cell responses to thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (TRAP) by using a viral vector. METHOD: Thirty-seven healthy malaria-naive adults were vaccinated with either a chimpanzee adenovirus 63 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara-vectored vaccine expressing a multiepitope string fused to TRAP and 3 doses of RTS,S/AS01B (group 1; n = 20) or 3 doses of RTS,S/AS01B alone (group 2; n = 17). CHMI was delivered by mosquito bites to 33 vaccinated subjects at week 12 after the first vaccination and to 6 unvaccinated controls. RESULTS: No suspected unexpected serious adverse reactions or severe adverse events related to vaccination were reported. Protective vaccine efficacy was observed in 14 of 17 subjects (82.4%) in group 1 and 12 of 16 subjects (75%) in group 2. All control subjects received a diagnosis of blood-stage malaria parasite infection. Both vaccination regimens were immunogenic. Fourteen protected subjects underwent repeat CHMI 6 months after initial CHMI; 7 of 8 (87.5%) in group 1 and 5 of 6 (83.3%) in group 2 remained protected. CONCLUSIONS: The high level of sterile efficacy observed in this trial is encouraging for further evaluation of combination approaches using these vaccine types. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT01883609.

Afolabi MO, Tiono AB, Adetifa UJ, Yaro JB, Drammeh A, Nébié I, Bliss C, Hodgson SH, Anagnostou NA, Sanou GS et al. 2016. Safety and Immunogenicity of ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP in West African Children and Infants. Mol Ther, 24 (8), pp. 1470-1477. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria remains a significant global health burden and a vaccine would make a substantial contribution to malaria control. Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 Modified Vaccinia Ankara Multiple epitope thrombospondin adhesion protein (ME-TRAP) and vaccination has shown significant efficacy against malaria sporozoite challenge in malaria-naive European volunteers and against malaria infection in Kenyan adults. Infants are the target age group for malaria vaccination; however, no studies have yet assessed T-cell responses in children and infants. We enrolled 138 Gambian and Burkinabe children in four different age-groups: 2-6 years old in The Gambia; 5-17 months old in Burkina Faso; 5-12 months old, and also 10 weeks old, in The Gambia; and evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 Modified Vaccinia Ankara ME-TRAP heterologous prime-boost immunization. The vaccines were well tolerated in all age groups with no vaccine-related serious adverse events. T-cell responses to vaccination peaked 7 days after boosting with Modified Vaccinia Ankara, with T-cell responses highest in 10 week-old infants. Heterologous prime-boost immunization with Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 and Modified Vaccinia Ankara ME-TRAP was well tolerated in infants and children, inducing strong T-cell responses. We identify an approach that induces potent T-cell responses in infants, which may be useful for preventing other infectious diseases requiring cellular immunity.

Ewer KJ, Lambe T, Rollier CS, Spencer AJ, Hill AV, Dorrell L. 2016. Viral vectors as vaccine platforms: from immunogenicity to impact. Curr Opin Immunol, 41 pp. 47-54. | Show Abstract | Read more

Viral vectors are the vaccine platform of choice for many pathogens that have thwarted efforts towards control using conventional vaccine approaches. Although the STEP trial encumbered development of recombinant human adenovirus vectors only a few years ago, replication-deficient simian adenoviruses have since emerged as a crucial component of clinically effective prime-boost regimens. The vectors discussed here elicit functionally relevant cellular and humoral immune responses, at extremes of age and in diverse populations. The recent Ebola virus outbreak highlighted the utility of viral vectored vaccines in facilitating a rapid response to public health emergencies. Meanwhile, technological advances in manufacturing to support scale-up of viral vectored vaccines have helped to consolidate their position as a leading approach to tackling 'old' and emerging infections.

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.).

Milligan ID, Gibani MM, Sewell R, Clutterbuck EA, Campbell D, Plested E, Nuthall E, Voysey M, Silva-Reyes L, McElrath MJ et al. 2016. Safety and Immunogenicity of Novel Adenovirus Type 26- and Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Vectored Ebola Vaccines: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 315 (15), pp. 1610-1623. | Show Abstract | Read more

IMPORTANCE: Developing effective vaccines against Ebola virus is a global priority. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate an adenovirus type 26 vector vaccine encoding Ebola glycoprotein (Ad26.ZEBOV) and a modified vaccinia Ankara vector vaccine, encoding glycoproteins from Ebola virus, Sudan virus, Marburg virus, and Tai Forest virus nucleoprotein (MVA-BN-Filo). DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Single-center, randomized, placebo-controlled, observer-blind, phase 1 trial performed in Oxford, United Kingdom, enrolling healthy 18- to 50-year-olds from December 2014; 8-month follow-up was completed October 2015. INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomized into 4 groups, within which they were simultaneously randomized 5:1 to receive study vaccines or placebo. Those receiving active vaccines were primed with Ad26.ZEBOV (5 × 10(10) viral particles) or MVA-BN-Filo (1 × 10(8) median tissue culture infective dose) and boosted with the alternative vaccine 28 or 56 days later. A fifth, open-label group received Ad26.ZEBOV boosted by MVA-BN-Filo 14 days later. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcomes were safety and tolerability. All adverse events were recorded until 21 days after each immunization; serious adverse events were recorded throughout the trial. Secondary outcomes were humoral and cellular immune responses to immunization, as assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and enzyme-linked immunospot performed at baseline and from 7 days after each immunization until 8 months after priming immunizations. RESULTS: Among 87 study participants (median age, 38.5 years; 66.7% female), 72 were randomized into 4 groups of 18, and 15 were included in the open-label group. Four participants did not receive a booster dose; 67 of 75 study vaccine recipients were followed up at 8 months. No vaccine-related serious adverse events occurred. No participant became febrile after MVA-BN-Filo, compared with 3 of 60 participants (5%; 95% CI, 1%-14%) receiving Ad26.ZEBOV in the randomized groups. In the open-label group, 4 of 15 Ad26.ZEBOV recipients (27%; 95% CI, 8%-55%) experienced fever. In the randomized groups, 28 of 29 Ad26.ZEBOV recipients (97%; 95% CI, 82%- 99.9%) and 7 of 30 MVA-BN-Filo recipients (23%; 95% CI, 10%-42%) had detectable Ebola glycoprotein-specific IgG 28 days after primary immunization. All vaccine recipients had specific IgG detectable 21 days postboost and at 8-month follow-up. Within randomized groups, at 7 days postboost, at least 86% of vaccine recipients showed Ebola-specific T-cell responses. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this phase 1 study of healthy volunteers, immunization with Ad26.ZEBOV or MVA-BN-Filo did not result in any vaccine-related serious adverse events. An immune response was observed after primary immunization with Ad26.ZEBOV; boosting by MVA-BN-Filo resulted in sustained elevation of specific immunity. These vaccines are being further assessed in phase 2 and 3 studies. TRIAL REGISTRATION: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02313077.

Lambe T, Rampling T, Samuel D, Bowyer G, Ewer KJ, Venkatraman N, Edmans M, Dicks S, Hill AVS, Tedder RS, Gilbert SC. 2016. Detection of Vaccine-Induced Antibodies to Ebola Virus in Oral Fluid. Open Forum Infect Dis, 3 (1), pp. ofw031. | Show Abstract | Read more

Blood sampling to assess production of antigen-specific antibodies after immunization is commonly performed, but it presents logistical difficulties for trials carried out during an infectious disease outbreak. In this study, we show that antibodies may be reliably detected in oral fluid collected in a minimally invasive manner without use of sharps. Clinical Trials Registration. NCT02240875.

Mensah VA, Gueye A, Ndiaye M, Edwards NJ, Wright D, Anagnostou NA, Syll M, Ndaw A, Abiola A, Bliss C et al. 2016. Safety, Immunogenicity and Efficacy of Prime-Boost Vaccination with ChAd63 and MVA Encoding ME-TRAP against Plasmodium falciparum Infection in Adults in Senegal. PLoS One, 11 (12), pp. e0167951. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria transmission is in decline in some parts of Africa, partly due to the scaling up of control measures. If the goal of elimination is to be achieved, additional control measures including an effective and durable vaccine will be required. Studies utilising the prime-boost approach to deliver viral vectors encoding the pre-erythrocytic antigen ME-TRAP (multiple epitope thrombospondin-related adhesion protein) have shown promising safety, immunogenicity and efficacy in sporozoite challenge studies. More recently, a study in Kenyan adults, similar to that reported here, showed substantial efficacy against P. falciparum infection. One hundred and twenty healthy male volunteers, living in a malaria endemic area of Senegal were randomised to receive either the Chimpanzee adenovirus (ChAd63) ME-TRAP as prime vaccination, followed eight weeks later by modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) also encoding ME-TRAP as booster, or two doses of anti-rabies vaccine as a comparator. Prior to follow-up, antimalarials were administered to clear parasitaemia and then participants were monitored by PCR for malaria infection for eight weeks. The primary endpoint was time-to-infection with P. falciparum malaria, determined by two consecutive positive PCR results. Secondary endpoints included adverse event reporting, measures of cellular and humoral immunogenicity and a meta-analysis of combined vaccine efficacy with the parallel study in Kenyan adults.We show that this pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine is safe and induces significant immunogenicity, with a peak T-cell response at seven days after boosting of 932 Spot Forming Cells (SFC)/106 Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells(PBMC) compared to 57 SFC/ 106 PBMCs in the control group. However, a vaccine efficacy was not observed: 12 of 57 ME-TRAP vaccinees became PCR positive during the intensive monitoring period as compared to 13 of the 58 controls (P = 0.80). This trial confirms that vaccine efficacy against malaria infection in adults may be rapidly assessed using this efficient and cost-effective clinical trial design. Further efficacy evaluation of this vectored candidate vaccine approach in other malaria transmission settings and age-de-escalation into the main target age groups for a malaria vaccine is in progress.

Longley RJ, Halbroth BR, Ewer KJ, Hill AVS, Spencer AJ. 2015. Identification of Immunodominant Responses to the Plasmodium falciparum Antigens PfUIS3, PfLSA1 and PfLSAP2 in Multiple Strains of Mice. PLoS One, 10 (12), pp. e0144515. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria, caused by the Plasmodium parasite, remains a serious global public health concern. A vaccine could have a substantial impact on eliminating this disease, alongside other preventative measures. We recently described the development of three novel, viral vectored vaccines expressing either of the antigens PfUIS3, PfLSA1 and PfLSAP2. Each vaccination regimen provided high levels of protection against chimeric parasite challenge in a mouse model, largely dependent on CD8+ T cells. In this study we aimed to further characterize the induced cellular immune response to these vaccines. We utilized both the IFNγ enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay and intracellular cytokine staining to achieve this aim. We identified immunodominant peptide responses for CD4+ and CD8+ T cells for each of the antigens in BALB/c, C57BL/6 and HLA-A2 transgenic mice, creating a useful tool for researchers for subsequent study of these antigens. We also compared these immunodominant peptides with those generated from epitope prediction software, and found that only a small proportion of the large number of epitopes predicted by the software were identifiable experimentally. Furthermore, we characterized the polyfunctionality of the induced CD8+ T cell responses. These findings contribute to our understanding of the immunological mechanisms underlying these protective vaccines, and provide a useful basis for the assessment of these and related vaccines as clinical constructs.

Ewer KJ, Sierra-Davidson K, Salman AM, Illingworth JJ, Draper SJ, Biswas S, Hill AVS. 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.

Bowyer G, Ewer K, Rampling T, Wright D, Imoukuhede EB, Payne R, Venkatraman N, Kraehling V, Stanley DA, Sullivan NJ et al. 2015. BOOSTING THE NOVEL EBOLA VACCINE CANDIDATE CHADEBOV Z WITH MODIFIED VACCINIA VIRUS ANKARA (MVA) SIGNIFICANTLY ENHANCES EBOLA-SPECIFIC ANTIBODY RESPONSES AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 93 (4), pp. 54-54.

Afolabi MO, Mensah V, Kanteh E, Ndaw A, Roetynck S, Clarke E, Faye B, Imoukhuede EB, Lawrie A, Roberts R et al. 2015. HETEROLOGOUS PRIME-BOOST VACCINATION WITH CANDIDATE MALARIA VACCINES CHAD63-MVA ME-TRAP IS SAFE AND HIGHLY IMMUNOGENIC FOR EFFECTOR T-CELL INDUCTION WHEN CO-ADMINISTERED WITH EPI VACCINES IN HEALTHY GAMBIAN INFANTS AND NEONATES AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 93 (4), pp. 110-110.

Wright D, Ewer K, Rampling T, Bowyer G, Imoukuhede E, Payne R, Venkatraman N, Sullivan N, Ledgerwood J, Graham B et al. 2015. IMPACT ON IMMUNOGENICITY OF VARYING THE INTERVAL BETWEEN THE PRIME AND BOOST OF A CANDIDATE EBOLA VACCINE CHAD3-EBO Z AND MVA-BN FILO IN HEALTHY UK ADULTS AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 93 (4), pp. 54-55.

Rampling T, Bowyer G, Wright D, Venkatraman N, Payne R, Sridhar S, Edwards N, Poulton I, Imoukhuede EB, Vekemans J et al. 2015. SAFETY, IMMUNOGENICITY AND EFFICACY OF THE COMBINATION MALARIA VACCINE REGIMEN OF RTS, S/AS01B CONCOMITANTLY ADMINISTERED WITH CHAD-MVA VIRAL VECTORS EXPRESSING ME-TRAP AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 93 (4), pp. 391-391.

Ogwang C, Kimani D, Edwards NJ, Roberts R, Mwacharo J, Bowyer G, Bliss C, Hodgson SH, Njuguna P, Viebig NK et al. 2015. Prime-boost vaccination with chimpanzee adenovirus and modified vaccinia Ankara encoding TRAP provides partial protection against Plasmodium falciparum infection in Kenyan adults. Sci Transl Med, 7 (286), pp. 286re5. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protective immunity to the liver stage of the malaria parasite can be conferred by vaccine-induced T cells, but no subunit vaccination approach based on cellular immunity has shown efficacy in field studies. We randomly allocated 121 healthy adult male volunteers in Kilifi, Kenya, to vaccination with the recombinant viral vectors chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), both encoding the malaria peptide sequence ME-TRAP (the multiple epitope string and thrombospondin-related adhesion protein), or to vaccination with rabies vaccine as a control. We gave antimalarials to clear parasitemia and conducted PCR (polymerase chain reaction) analysis on blood samples three times a week to identify infection with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. On Cox regression, vaccination reduced the risk of infection by 67% [95% confidence interval (CI), 33 to 83%; P = 0.002] during 8 weeks of monitoring. T cell responses to TRAP peptides 21 to 30 were significantly associated with protection (hazard ratio, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.08 to 0.75; P = 0.016).

Hodgson SH, Ewer KJ, Bliss CM, Edwards NJ, Rampling T, Anagnostou NA, de Barra E, Havelock T, Bowyer G, Poulton ID et al. 2015. Evaluation of the efficacy of ChAd63-MVA vectored vaccines expressing circumsporozoite protein and ME-TRAP against controlled human malaria infection in malaria-naive individuals. J Infect Dis, 211 (7), pp. 1076-1086. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Circumsporozoite protein (CS) is the antigenic target for RTS,S, the most advanced malaria vaccine to date. Heterologous prime-boost with the viral vectors simian adenovirus 63 (ChAd63)-modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is the most potent inducer of T-cells in humans, demonstrating significant efficacy when expressing the preerythrocytic antigen insert multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP). We hypothesized that ChAd63-MVA containing CS may result in a significant clinical protective efficacy. METHODS: We conducted an open-label, 2-site, partially randomized Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) study to compare the clinical efficacy of ChAd63-MVA CS with ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP. RESULTS: One of 15 vaccinees (7%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 2 of 15 (13%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP achieved sterile protection after CHMI. Three of 15 vaccinees (20%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 5 of 15 (33%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP demonstrated a delay in time to treatment, compared with unvaccinated controls. In quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses, ChAd63-MVA CS was estimated to reduce the liver parasite burden by 69%-79%, compared with 79%-84% for ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP. CONCLUSIONS: ChAd63-MVA CS does reduce the liver parasite burden, but ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP remains the most promising antigenic insert for a vectored liver-stage vaccine. Detailed analyses of parasite kinetics may allow detection of smaller but biologically important differences in vaccine efficacy that can influence future vaccine development. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT01623557.

Longley RJ, Salman AM, Cottingham MG, Ewer K, Janse CJ, Khan SM, Spencer AJ, Hill AVS. 2015. Comparative assessment of vaccine vectors encoding ten malaria antigens identifies two protective liver-stage candidates. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 11820. | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of an efficacious Plasmodium falciparum malaria vaccine remains a top priority for global health. Vaccination with irradiated sporozoites is able to provide complete sterile protection through the action of CD8(+) T cells at the liver-stage of infection. However, this method is currently unsuitable for large-scale deployment and focus has instead turned to the development of sub-unit vaccines. Sub-unit vaccine efforts have traditionally focused on two well-known pre-erythrocytic antigens, CSP and TRAP, yet thousands of genes are expressed in the liver-stage. We sought to assess the ability of eight alternative P. falciparum pre-erythrocytic antigens to induce a high proportion of CD8(+) T cells. We show that all antigens, when expressed individually in the non-replicating viral vectors ChAd63 and MVA, are capable of inducing an immune response in mice. Furthermore, we also developed chimeric P. berghei parasites expressing the cognate P. falciparum antigen to enable assessment of efficacy in mice. Our preliminary results indicate that vectors encoding either PfLSA1 or PfLSAP2 are capable of inducing sterile protection dependent on the presence of CD8(+) T cells. This work has identified two promising P. falciparum liver-stage candidate antigens that will now undergo further testing in humans.

Longley RJ, Bauza K, Ewer KJ, Hill AVS, Spencer AJ. 2015. Development of an in vitro assay and demonstration of Plasmodium berghei liver-stage inhibition by TRAP-specific CD8+ T cells. PLoS One, 10 (3), pp. e0119880. | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of an efficacious vaccine against the Plasmodium parasite remains a top priority. Previous research has demonstrated the ability of a prime-boost virally vectored sub-unit vaccination regimen, delivering the liver-stage expressed malaria antigen TRAP, to produce high levels of antigen-specific T cells. The liver-stage of malaria is the main target of T cell-mediated immunity, yet a major challenge in assessing new T cell inducing vaccines has been the lack of a suitable pre-clinical assay. We have developed a flow-cytometry based in vitro T cell killing assay using a mouse hepatoma cell line, Hepa1-6, and Plasmodium berghei GFP expressing sporozoites. Using this assay, P. berghei TRAP-specific CD8+ T cell enriched splenocytes were shown to inhibit liver-stage parasites in an effector-to-target ratio dependent manner. Further development of this assay using human hepatocytes and P. falciparum would provide a new method to pre-clinically screen vaccine candidates and to elucidate mechanisms of protection in vitro.

Bliss CM, Spencer AJ, Salman AM, Longley RJ, Galan AR, Khan SM, Janse CJ, O'Shea MK, Hill AV, Ewer KJ. 2014. Development of an in vitro Plasmodium parasite killing assay for the evaluation of cell-mediated immune responses following vaccination with pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine candidates IMMUNOLOGY, 143 pp. 74-75.

Nébié I, Edwards NJ, Tiono AB, Ewer KJ, Sanou GS, Soulama I, Sanon S, Diarra A, Yaro JB, Kangoye D et al. 2014. Correction for nébié et Al., assessment of chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 neutralizing antibodies prior to evaluation of a candidate malaria vaccine regimen based on viral vectors. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 21 (9), pp. 1376. | Read more

Kimani D, Jagne YJ, Cox M, Kimani E, Bliss CM, Gitau E, Ogwang C, Afolabi MO, Bowyer G, Collins KA et al. 2014. Translating the immunogenicity of prime-boost immunization with ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP from malaria naive to malaria-endemic populations. Mol Ther, 22 (11), pp. 1992-2003. | Show Abstract | Read more

To induce a deployable level of efficacy, a successful malaria vaccine would likely benefit from both potent cellular and humoral immunity. These requirements are met by a heterologous prime-boost immunization strategy employing a chimpanzee adenovirus vector followed by modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), both encoding the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen ME-thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP), with high immunogenicity and significant efficacy in UK adults. We undertook two phase 1b open-label studies in adults in Kenya and The Gambia in areas of similar seasonal malaria transmission dynamics and have previously reported safety and basic immunogenicity data. We now report flow cytometry and additional interferon (IFN)-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) data characterizing pre-existing and induced cellular immunity as well as anti-TRAP IgG responses. T-cell responses induced by vaccination averaged 1,254 spot-forming cells (SFC) per million peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) across both trials and flow cytometry revealed cytokine production from both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells with the frequency of CD8(+) IFN-γ-secreting monofunctional T cells (previously shown to associate with vaccine efficacy) particularly high in Kenyan adults. Immunization with ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP induced strong cellular and humoral immune responses in adults living in two malaria-endemic regions of Africa. This prime-boost approach targeting the pre-erythrocytic stage of the malaria life-cycle is now being assessed for efficacy in a target population.

Nébié I, Edwards NJ, Tiono AB, Ewer KJ, Sanou GS, Soulama I, Sanon S, Diarra A, Yaro JB, Kangoye D et al. 2014. Assessment of chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 neutralizing antibodies prior to evaluation of a candidate malaria vaccine regimen based on viral vectors. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 21 (6), pp. 901-903. | Show Abstract | Read more

Prior to a chimpanzee adenovirus-based (ChAd63) malarial vaccine trial, sera were collected to assess ChAd63-specific neutralizing antibody titers in Banfora (Burkina Faso). The low neutralizing antibody titers reported in both adults and children (median titers, 139.1 and 35.0, respectively) are encouraging for the potential use of ChAd63 as a malarial vaccine vector.

de Barra E, Hodgson SH, Ewer KJ, Bliss CM, Hennigan K, Collins A, Berrie E, Lawrie AM, Gilbert SC, Nicosia A et al. 2014. A phase Ia study to assess the safety and immunogenicity of new malaria vaccine candidates ChAd63 CS administered alone and with MVA CS. PLoS One, 9 (12), pp. e115161. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) malaria remains a significant cause of mortality and morbidity throughout the world. Development of an effective vaccine would be a key intervention to reduce the considerable social and economic impact of malaria. METHODOLOGY: We conducted a Phase Ia, non-randomized, clinical trial in 24 healthy, malaria-naïve adults of the chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) replication-deficient viral vectored vaccines encoding the circumsporozoite protein (CS) of P. falciparum. RESULTS: ChAd63-MVA CS administered in a heterologous prime-boost regime was shown to be safe and immunogenic, inducing high-level T cell responses to CS. With a priming ChAd63 CS dose of 5×109 vp responses peaked at a mean of 1947 SFC/million PBMC (median 1524) measured by ELIspot 7 days after the MVA boost and showed a mixed CD4+/CD8+ phenotype. With a higher priming dose of ChAd63 CS dose 5×1010 vp T cell responses did not increase (mean 1659 SFC/million PBMC, median 1049). Serum IgG responses to CS were modest and peaked at day 14 post ChAd63 CS (median antibody concentration for all groups at day 14 of 1.3 µg/ml (range 0-11.9), but persisted throughout late follow-up (day 140 median antibody concentration groups 1B & 2B 0.9 µg/ml (range 0-4.7). CONCLUSIONS: ChAd63-MVA is a safe and highly immunogenic delivery platform for the CS antigen in humans which warrants efficacy testing. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01450280.

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.

Elias SC, Choudhary P, de Cassan SC, Biswas S, Collins KA, Halstead FD, Bliss CM, Ewer KJ, Hodgson SH, Duncan CJA 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.

Ewer KJ, O'Hara GA, Duncan CJA, 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.

Elias SC, Collins KA, Halstead FD, Choudhary P, Bliss CM, Ewer KJ, Sheehy SH, Duncan CJA, Biswas S, Hill AVS, 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.

Ogwang C, Afolabi M, Kimani D, Jagne YJ, Sheehy SH, Bliss CM, Duncan CJA, Collins KA, Garcia Knight MA, Kimani E et al. 2013. Safety and immunogenicity of heterologous prime-boost immunisation with Plasmodium falciparum malaria candidate vaccines, ChAd63 ME-TRAP and MVA ME-TRAP, in healthy Gambian and Kenyan adults. PLoS One, 8 (3), pp. e57726. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Heterologous prime boost immunization with chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and Modified vaccinia Virus Ankara (MVA) vectored vaccines is a strategy recently shown to be capable of inducing strong cell mediated responses against several antigens from the malaria parasite. ChAd63-MVA expressing the Plasmodium falciparum pre-erythrocytic antigen ME-TRAP (multiple epitope string with thrombospondin-related adhesion protein) is a leading malaria vaccine candidate, capable of inducing sterile protection in malaria naïve adults following controlled human malaria infection (CHMI). METHODOLOGY: We conducted two Phase Ib dose escalation clinical trials assessing the safety and immunogenicity of ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP in 46 healthy malaria exposed adults in two African countries with similar malaria transmission patterns. RESULTS: ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP was shown to be safe and immunogenic, inducing high-level T cell responses (median >1300 SFU/million PBMC). CONCLUSIONS: ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP is a safe and highly immunogenic vaccine regimen in adults with prior exposure to malaria. Further clinical trials to assess safety and immunogenicity in children and infants and protective efficacy in the field are now warranted. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Pactr.org PACTR2010020001771828 Pactr.org PACTR201008000221638 ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01373879 NCT01373879 ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01379430 NCT01379430.

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJA, 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.

O'Hara GA, Duncan CJA, Ewer KJ, Collins KA, Elias SC, Halstead FD, Goodman AL, Edwards NJ, Reyes-Sandoval A, Bird P et al. 2012. Clinical assessment of a recombinant simian adenovirus ChAd63: a potent new vaccine vector. J Infect Dis, 205 (5), pp. 772-781. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Vaccine development in human Plasmodium falciparum malaria has been hampered by the exceptionally high levels of CD8(+) T cells required for efficacy. Use of potently immunogenic human adenoviruses as vaccine vectors could overcome this problem, but these are limited by preexisting immunity to human adenoviruses. METHODS: From 2007 to 2010, we undertook a phase I dose and route finding study of a new malaria vaccine, a replication-incompetent chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) encoding the preerythrocytic insert multiple epitope thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP; n = 54 vaccinees) administered alone (n = 28) or with a modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) ME-TRAP booster immunization 8 weeks later (n = 26). We observed an excellent safety profile. High levels of TRAP antigen-specific CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells, as detected by interferon γ enzyme-linked immunospot assay and flow cytometry, were induced by intramuscular ChAd63 ME-TRAP immunization at doses of 5 × 10(10) viral particles and above. Subsequent administration of MVA ME-TRAP boosted responses to exceptionally high levels, and responses were maintained for up to 30 months postvaccination. CONCLUSIONS: The ChAd63 chimpanzee adenovirus vector appears safe and highly immunogenic, providing a viable alternative to human adenoviruses as vaccine vectors for human use. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT00890019.

Colloca S, Barnes E, Folgori A, Ammendola V, Capone S, Cirillo A, Siani L, Naddeo M, Grazioli F, Esposito ML et al. 2012. Vaccine vectors derived from a large collection of simian adenoviruses induce potent cellular immunity across multiple species. Sci Transl Med, 4 (115), pp. 115ra2. | Show Abstract | Read more

Replication-defective adenovirus vectors based on human serotype 5 (Ad5) induce protective immune responses against diverse pathogens and cancer in animal models, as well as elicit robust and sustained cellular immunity in humans. However, most humans have neutralizing antibodies to Ad5, which can impair the immunological potency of such vaccines. Here, we show that rare serotypes of human adenoviruses, which should not be neutralized in most humans, are far less potent as vaccine vectors than Ad5 in mice and nonhuman primates, casting doubt on their potential efficacy in humans. To identify novel vaccine carriers suitable for vaccine delivery in humans, we isolated and sequenced more than 1000 adenovirus strains from chimpanzees (ChAd). Replication-defective vectors were generated from a subset of these ChAd serotypes and screened to determine whether they were neutralized by human sera and able to grow in human cell lines. We then ranked these ChAd vectors by immunological potency and found up to a thousandfold variation in potency for CD8+ T cell induction in mice. These ChAd vectors were safe and immunologically potent in phase 1 clinical trials, thereby validating our screening approach. These data suggest that the ChAd vectors developed here represent a large collection of non-cross-reactive, potent vectors that may be exploited for the development of new vaccines.

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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 Molecular Therapy, 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 (MSP1AMA1), or with a pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine candidate (MSP1ME-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 MSP1AMA1 - 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. © The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy.

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJA, 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.

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJA, 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.

Rollier CS, Reyes-Sandoval A, Cottingham MG, Ewer K, Hill AVS. 2011. Viral vectors as vaccine platforms: deployment in sight. Curr Opin Immunol, 23 (3), pp. 377-382. | Show Abstract | Read more

A little more than a decade after the explosion of research into recombinant live-attenuated or replication-deficient viruses as vaccine platforms, many viral vector-based vaccines have been licensed for animals. Progress has been slower for humans but 2011 will see the licensure of the first viral-vectored vaccine for humans, against Japanese Encephalitis. In addition a vaccine with a viral-vectored component showed efficacy against HIV infection in humans. Viral-based vaccines have an excellent safety profile but must deal with the potential problem of pre-existing anti-vector immunity. Recent successes reflect diverse improvements such as development of new adenovirus serotypes and better prime-boost approaches, suggesting that many viral vectors are approaching their final years as vaccine 'candidates' rather than vaccines.

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Rollier CS, Reyes-Sandoval A, Cottingham MG, Ewer K, Hill AVS. 2011. Viral vectors as vaccine platforms: Deployment in sight Current Opinion in Immunology, 23 (3), pp. 377-382. | Show Abstract | Read more

A little more than a decade after the explosion of research into recombinant live-attenuated or replication-deficient viruses as vaccine platforms, many viral vector-based vaccines have been licensed for animals. Progress has been slower for humans but 2011 will see the licensure of the first viral-vectored vaccine for humans, against Japanese Encephalitis. In addition a vaccine with a viral-vectored component showed efficacy against HIV infection in humans. Viral-based vaccines have an excellent safety profile but must deal with the potential problem of pre-existing anti-vector immunity. Recent successes reflect diverse improvements such as development of new adenovirus serotypes and better prime-boost approaches, suggesting that many viral vectors are approaching their final years as vaccine 'candidates' rather than vaccines. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Cited:

103

Scopus

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJA, 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 Molecular Therapy, 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. © The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy.

Duncan CJA, 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].

Berthoud TK, Hamill M, Lillie PJ, Hwenda L, Collins KA, Ewer KJ, Milicic A, Poyntz HC, Lambe T, Fletcher HA et al. 2011. Potent CD8+ T-cell immunogenicity in humans of a novel heterosubtypic influenza A vaccine, MVA-NP+M1. Clin Infect Dis, 52 (1), pp. 1-7. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Influenza A viruses cause occasional pandemics and frequent epidemics. Licensed influenza vaccines that induce high antibody titers to the highly polymorphic viral surface antigen hemagglutinin must be re-formulated and readministered annually. A vaccine providing protective immunity to the highly conserved internal antigens could provide longer-lasting protection against multiple influenza subtypes. METHODS: We prepared a Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vector encoding nucleoprotein and matrix protein 1 (MVA-NP+M1) and conducted a phase I clinical trial in healthy adults. RESULTS: The vaccine was generally safe and well tolerated, with significantly fewer local side effects after intramuscular rather than intradermal administration. Systemic side effects increased at the higher dose in both frequency and severity, with 5 out of 8 volunteers experiencing severe nausea/vomiting, malaise, or rigors. Ex vivo T-cell responses to NP and M1 measured by IFN-γ ELISPOT assay were significantly increased after vaccination (prevaccination median of 123 spot-forming units/million peripheral blood mononuclear cells, postvaccination peak response median 339, 443, and 1443 in low-dose intradermal, low-dose intramuscular, and high-dose intramuscular groups, respectively), and the majority of the antigen-specific T cells were CD8(+). CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the vaccine was both safe and remarkably immunogenic, leading to frequencies of responding T cells that appear to be much higher than those induced by any other influenza vaccination approach. Further studies will be required to find the optimum dose and to assess whether the increased T-cell response to conserved influenza proteins results in protection from influenza disease.

Hill AVS, 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.

Reyes-Sandoval A, Pearson FE, Todryk S, Ewer K. 2009. Potency assays for novel T-cell-inducing vaccines against malaria. Curr Opin Mol Ther, 11 (1), pp. 72-80. | Show Abstract

The complex life cycle of the malaria parasite involves several developmental stages in the mammalian host that provide opportunities for vaccine intervention. The effector arm of the immune response that protects against malaria is specific for each stage of the parasite life cycle. While CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells are required to mediate protection during the liver stage, antibodies play a major role before parasite entry into the liver and during the blood stage. Induction of cytotoxic T-cells or those producing IFNgamma has become a major goal for T-cell-inducing vaccines, and the liver stage is currently one of the preferred targets for malaria vaccine development. T-cells can effectively be primed by several vaccine strategies, including recombinant vectors. A wide range of such vectors is currently available and their use alone or in combination induces high frequencies of antigen-specific T-cells in animal models and humans. Therefore, traditional potency assays, such as the highly sensitive ex vivo and cultured ELISPOT, are being complemented by less sensitive, but more flexible techniques, such as flow cytometry, which allows characterization of multifunctional antigen-specific T-cells following vaccination.

Garcia Pelayo MC, Garcia JN, Golby P, Pirson C, Ewer K, Vordermeier M, Hewinson RG, Gordon SV. 2009. Gene expression profiling and antigen mining of the tuberculin production strain Mycobacterium bovis AN5. Vet Microbiol, 133 (3), pp. 272-277. | Show Abstract | Read more

Control of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) relies on regular testing of cattle with a crude preparation of mycobacterial antigens termed purified protein derivative (PPD). Worldwide production of bovine PPD uses the Mycobacterium bovis AN5, a strain that was originally isolated circa 1948 in Great Britain (GB). Despite its worldwide use, the AN5 strain is poorly characterised. AN5 was adapted to grow on glycerol in a process similar to that used for the derivation of the BCG vaccine strains; during this process, it is known that BCG deleted the genes for some potent antigens. Our previous analysis of the genome of M. bovis AN5 showed that it had not suffered extensive gene deletion events during in vitro adaptation. However, glycerol adaptation of AN5 strain may have caused differences in its global gene expression profile that could affect antigen expression. To assess this, we determined the transcriptome profile of AN5 and compared it to expression data for two endemic GB strains of M. bovis that account for approximately 61% of all GB bTB cases. Genes expressed at lower levels in AN5 compared to M. bovis field isolates were then screened for antigenicity in naturally infected animals. Using this approach a number of genes were found to be expressed at lower levels in AN5, including those for known antigens. Our results show that field strains of M. bovis show some significant differences in gene expression to AN5, and that this differential gene expression may impact on the antigen profiles expressed by AN5 during in vitro culture.

Sidders B, Pirson C, Hogarth PJ, Hewinson RG, Stoker NG, Vordermeier HM, Ewer K. 2008. Screening of highly expressed mycobacterial genes identifies Rv3615c as a useful differential diagnostic antigen for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Infect Immun, 76 (9), pp. 3932-3939. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tuberculous infections caused by mycobacteria, especially tuberculosis of humans and cattle, are important both clinically and economically. Human populations can be vaccinated with Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), and control measures for cattle involving vaccination are now being actively considered. However, diagnostic tests based on tuberculin cannot distinguish between genuine infection and vaccination with BCG. Therefore, identification of differential diagnostic antigens capable of making this distinction is required, and until now sequence-based approaches have been predominant. Here we explored the link between antigenicity and mRNA expression level, as well as the possibility that we may be able to detect differential antigens by analyzing quantified global transcriptional profiles. We generated a list of 14 candidate antigens that are highly expressed in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. bovis under a variety of growth conditions. These candidates were screened in M. bovis-infected and naïve cattle for the ability to stimulate a gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) response. We identified one antigen, Rv3615c, which stimulated IFN-gamma responses in a significant proportion of M. bovis-infected cattle (11 of 30 cattle [37%] [P < 0.01]) but not in naïve or BCG-vaccinated animals. Importantly, the same antigen stimulated IFN-gamma responses in a significant proportion of infected cattle that did not respond to the well-characterized mycobacterial antigens ESAT-6 and CFP-10. Therefore, use of the Rv3615c epitope in combination with previously described differential tests based on ESAT-6 and CFP-10 has the potential to significantly increase diagnostic sensitivity without reducing specificity in BCG-vaccinated populations.

Golby P, Nunez J, Cockle PJ, Ewer K, Logan K, Hogarth P, Vordermeier HM, Hinds J, Hewinson RG, Gordon SV. 2008. Characterization of two in vivo-expressed methyltransferases of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex: antigenicity and genetic regulation. Microbiology, 154 (Pt 4), pp. 1059-1067. | Show Abstract | Read more

Genome sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex members has accelerated the search for new disease-control tools. Antigen mining is one area that has benefited enormously from access to genome data. As part of an ongoing antigen mining programme, we screened genes that were previously identified by transcriptome analysis as upregulated in response to an in vitro acid shock for their in vivo expression profile and antigenicity. We show that the genes encoding two methyltransferases, Mb1438c/Rv1403c and Mb1440c/Rv1404c, were highly upregulated in a mouse model of infection, and were antigenic in M. bovis-infected cattle. As the genes encoding these antigens were highly upregulated in vivo, we sought to define their genetic regulation. A mutant was constructed that was deleted for their putative regulator, Mb1439/Rv1404; loss of the regulator led to increased expression of the flanking methyltransferases and a defined set of distal genes. This work has therefore generated both applied and fundamental outputs, with the description of novel mycobacterial antigens that can now be moved into field trials, but also with the description of a regulatory network that is responsive to both in vivo and in vitro stimuli.

Rhodes SG, Sawyer J, Whelan AO, Dean GS, Coad M, Ewer KJ, Waldvogel AS, Zakher A, Clifford DJ, Hewinson RG, Vordermeier HM. 2007. Is interleukin-4delta3 splice variant expression in bovine tuberculosis a marker of protective immunity? Infect Immun, 75 (6), pp. 3006-3013. | Show Abstract | Read more

Splice variants of the interleukin-4 (IL-4) cytokine gene have been described for humans, mice, and cattle. IL-4 splice variants have been shown to inhibit IL-4-mediated cellular responses and thus act as IL-4 antagonists. Recent work has highlighted the possibility of a correlation between IL-4 splice variants and protection against clinical tuberculosis. In this study we investigated the potential role of IL-4 splice variants IL-4delta2 and IL-4delta3 in cattle with bovine tuberculosis, using quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR. For this analysis we used naturally exposed tuberculin skin test-positive field reactor cattle, uninfected control cattle, and cattle from two experimental models of protective immunity against Mycobacterium bovis: (i) vaccination with M. bovis BCG and challenge with virulent M. bovis and (ii) infection with M. bovis and treatment with isoniazid (INH) prior to rechallenge. The cytokine levels of field reactor cattle were compared to the levels of uninfected controls, while in kinetic studies of BCG vaccination and INH treatment we compared pre-experimental values with sequential samples for each individual animal. The data revealed a significant increase in IL-4delta3 mRNA expression in field reactor cattle, which had no visible pathology compared to cattle with gross pathology typical of bovine tuberculosis. Increased IL-4delta3 expression in both cattle models of protective immunity (BCG vaccination and INH treatment) was transient over time, reaching significance in the INH treatment model. Our results support the hypothesis that IL-4delta3 is involved in protective immunity against M. bovis infection in cattle and are in accordance with clinical studies that have suggested a role for IL-4 splice variants in protective immunity in tuberculosis.

Gooding S, Chowdhury O, Hinks T, Richeldi L, Losi M, Ewer K, Millington K, Gunatheesan R, Cerri S, McNally J, Lalvani A. 2007. Impact of a T cell-based blood test for tuberculosis infection on clinical decision-making in routine practice. J Infect, 54 (3), pp. e169-e174. | Show Abstract | Read more

New T cell-based blood tests for tuberculosis infection could improve diagnosis of tuberculosis but their clinical utility remains unknown. We describe the role of the ELISpot test in the diagnostic work-up of 13 patients presenting with suspected tuberculosis in routine practice. Of the seven patients with a final diagnosis of active tuberculosis, all were positive by ELISpot including three with false-negative tuberculin skin test results. Rapid determination of tuberculosis infection by ELISpot accelerated the diagnosis of tuberculosis, enabling early treatment initiation.

Lalvani A, Millington K, Ewer K. 2007. From the authors [6] American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 175 (2), pp. 199.

Richeldi L, Ewer K, Losi M, Bergamini BM, Millington K, Fabbri LM, Lalvani A. 2007. T-cell-based diagnosis of neonatal multidrug-resistant latent tuberculosis infection. Pediatrics, 119 (1), pp. e1-e5. | Show Abstract | Read more

Young children exposed to tuberculosis have a high risk of progression to severe tuberculosis disease, but diagnosis of recent infection is hindered by the poor sensitivity of the tuberculin skin test. Whether new blood tests can detect latent infection in this vulnerable group is unknown because there is no gold standard. We monitored a tuberculin skin test-negative infant whose mother had infectious multidrug-resistant tuberculosis with enzyme-linked immunospot, a blood test that enumerates Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific T cells. The enzyme-linked immunospot test became persistently positive by 6 months, and 18 months later the child developed active tuberculosis despite appropriate chemoprophylaxis. At this point, the magnitude of the enzyme-linked immunospot response increased >10-fold. Our findings demonstrate that this blood test detected latent infection with dormant, yet viable, bacilli and illustrate how enzyme-linked immunospot could improve diagnosis of childhood tuberculosis infection.

Ewer K, Millington KA, Deeks JJ, Alvarez L, Bryant G, Lalvani A. 2006. Dynamic antigen-specific T-cell responses after point-source exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 174 (7), pp. 831-839. | Show Abstract | Read more

RATIONALE: The kinetics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific Th1-type T-cell responses after M. tuberculosis infection are likely to be important in determining clinical outcome. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the kinetics of T-cell responses, in the context of a point-source school tuberculosis outbreak, in three groups of contacts who differed by preventive treatment status and tuberculin skin test (TST) results: 38 treated TST-positive students, 11 untreated TST-positive staff, and 14 untreated students with negative or borderline TST results. METHODS: We used the ex vivo IFN-gamma enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISpot) to track T cells specific for two region of difference 1 (RD1) antigens, early secretory antigenic target 6 and culture filtrate protein 10, for 18 mo after cessation of tuberculosis exposure. MAIN RESULTS: The treated TST-positive students had an average 68% decline in frequencies of RD1-specific IFN-gamma-secreting T cells per year (p < 0.0001) and 6 of 38 students had no detectable RD1-specific T cells by 18 mo. No change in frequencies of these cells was observed in the untreated TST-positive staff (p = 0.38) and none were ELISpot-negative at 18 mo. Of the 14 untreated students, 7 were persistently ELISpot-positive (all of whom had borderline TST results), and 7 became ELISpot-negative (all but one had negative TST results) during follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: The decrease in M. tuberculosis-specific T cells and their disappearance in a proportion of treated students likely reflect declining antigenic and bacterial load in vivo induced by antibiotic treatment. The observed disappearance of M. tuberculosis-specific T cells in the untreated TST-negative contacts suggests that an acute resolving infection may occur in some contacts.

Richeldi L, Ewer K, Losi M, Roversi P, Fabbri LM, Lalvani A. 2006. Repeated tuberculin testing does not induce false positive ELISPOT results. Thorax, 61 (2), pp. 180. | Read more

Richeldi L, Luppi M, Losi M, Luppi F, Potenza L, Roversi P, Cerri S, Millington KA, Ewer K, Fabbri LM et al. 2006. Diagnosis of occult tuberculosis in hematological malignancy by enumeration of antigen-specific T cells. Leukemia, 20 (2), pp. 379-381. | Read more

Ewer K, Cockle P, Gordon S, Mansoor H, Govaerts M, Walravens K, Marché S, Hewinson G, Vordermeier M. 2006. Antigen mining with iterative genome screens identifies novel diagnostics for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 13 (1), pp. 90-97. | Show Abstract | Read more

The definition of antigens for the diagnosis of human and bovine tuberculosis is a research priority. If diagnosis is to be used alongside Mycobacterium bovis BCG-based vaccination regimens, it will be necessary to have reagents that allow the discrimination of infected and vaccinated animals. A list of 42 potential M. bovis-specific antigens was prepared by comparative analysis of the genomes of M. bovis, M. avium subsp. avium, M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis, and Streptomyces coelicolor. Potential antigens were tested by applying them in a high-throughput peptide-based screening system to M. bovis-infected and BCG-vaccinated cattle and to cattle without prior exposure to M. bovis. A response hierarchy of antigens was established by comparing responses in infected animals. Three antigens (Mb2555, Mb2890, and Mb3895) were selected for further study, as they were strongly recognized in experimentally infected animals but with low or no frequency in BCG-vaccinated and naïve cows. Interestingly, all three antigens were recognized in animals vaccinated against Johne's disease, suggesting the presences of epitopes cross-reacting with M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis antigens. Eight peptides from the three antigens studied in detail were identified as immunodominant and were characterized in terms of major histocompatibility complex class II restriction element usage and shown to be restricted through both DR and DQ molecules. Reasons for antigenic cross-reactivity with M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis and refinement of the in silico strategy to predict such cross-reactivity from the primary protein sequence will be discussed. Evaluation of the peptides identified from the three dominant antigens by use of larger field studies is now a priority.

Shams H, Weis SE, Klucar P, Lalvani A, Moonan PK, Pogoda JM, Ewer K, Barnes PF. 2005. Enzyme-linked immunospot and tuberculin skin testing to detect latent tuberculosis infection. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 172 (9), pp. 1161-1168. | Show Abstract | Read more

RATIONALE: Diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is currently based on the tuberculin skin test. The enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISPOT) is a new blood test to diagnose LTBI. OBJECTIVE: To compare the ELISPOT and the tuberculin skin test for detecting LTBI in contacts of patients with tuberculosis. METHODS: Prospective study of 413 contacts of patients with tuberculosis. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Because there is no gold standard for LTBI, the sensitivity and specificity of the ELISPOT and tuberculin skin test cannot be directly measured. For each contact, we therefore estimated the likelihood of having LTBI by calculating a contact score that quantified exposure to and infectiousness of the index case. We analyzed the relationship of contact score to ELISPOT and tuberculin skin test results. The likelihood of a positive ELISPOT (p = 0.0005) and a tuberculin skin test (p = 0.01) increased significantly with rising contact scores. The contact score was more strongly related to the ELISPOT than to the tuberculin skin test results, although this difference was not statistically significant. Among U.S.-born persons and those who were not vaccinated with bacille Calmette-Guérin, approximately 30% had positive ELISPOT or tuberculin skin test results. Foreign-born, bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated persons were significantly more likely to have a positive tuberculin skin test than a positive ELISPOT result (p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Compared with the tuberculin skin test, the ELISPOT appears to be at least as sensitive for diagnosis of LTBI in contacts of patients with tuberculosis.

Soysal A, Millington KA, Bakir M, Dosanjh D, Aslan Y, Deeks JJ, Efe S, Staveley I, Ewer K, Lalvani A. 2005. Effect of BCG vaccination on risk of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in children with household tuberculosis contact: a prospective community-based study. Lancet, 366 (9495), pp. 1443-1451. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Little is known about factors that affect the risk of acquiring infection in children exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The effect of BCG vaccination has been difficult to ascertain because the tuberculin skin test (TST), until recently the only method for detecting M tuberculosis infection, does not reliably distinguish between tuberculosis infection and BCG vaccination. METHODS: We investigated risk factors for tuberculosis infection in 979 child household contacts of 414 adult index patients with sputum smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis in Istanbul, Turkey. Children were aged up to 16 years (median 7, IQR 3-11) and 770 of 979 (79%) had a BCG scar. A T-cell-based enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISpot), which is not confounded by BCG vaccination, and TST were used to assess infection. Independent risk factors for infection were identified through multivariate analysis. FINDINGS: Amount of tuberculosis exposure within the household and age (a marker of tuberculosis exposure outside the household) were strongly associated with likelihood of infection as measured by both TST and ELISpot. ELISpot also identified absence of BCG scar as an independent risk factor for infection in tuberculosis-exposed children; BCG-vaccinated children had an odds ratio of 0.60 (95% CI 0.43-0.83, p=0.003) for tuberculosis infection, compared with unvaccinated children. INTERPRETATION: Contrary to the prevailing theory that BCG vaccination protects only against tuberculosis disease, our results suggest that the vaccine also protects against tuberculosis infection. This finding has important implications for our understanding of the biology of tuberculosis infection and development of improved tuberculosis vaccines.

Liebeschuetz S, Bamber S, Ewer K, Deeks J, Pathan AA, Lalvani A. 2004. Diagnosis of tuberculosis in South African children with a T-cell-based assay: a prospective cohort study. Lancet, 364 (9452), pp. 2196-2203. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Childhood tuberculosis often presents non-specifically and is a common differential diagnosis in high prevalence areas. Current diagnostic tools have poor sensitivity and cannot reliably exclude tuberculosis, so overdiagnosis is common. HIV co-infection exacerbates this problem and accounts for an increasing proportion of paediatric tuberculosis worldwide. METHODS: We assessed the usefulness of a T-cell-based rapid blood test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, the enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISPOT), in routine clinical practice. We did a prospective blinded study of 293 African children with suspected tuberculosis in kwaZulu-Natal, a region with high HIV prevalence. Children had full clinical assessment, ELISPOT, and a tuberculin skin test. Test results were compared with final clinical and microbiological diagnoses. RESULTS: In children with tuberculosis, sensitivity of ELISPOT was 83% (95% CI 75-89, n=133), significantly higher (p<0.001) than the 63% (54-72) sensitivity of tuberculin skin test (n=116). Sensitivity of tuberculin skin test fell significantly in children younger than 3 years (to 51%), with HIV co-infection (36%), or with malnutrition (44%). Sensitivity of ELISPOT, which was not significantly adversely affected by these factors, was 85%, 73%, and 78%, respectively in these subgroups. In 116 children with both test results available, sensitivity of the two tests combined was 91% (85-95). CONCLUSIONS: Diagnostic sensitivity of ELISPOT is higher than that of the skin test and is less affected by factors frequently associated with childhood tuberculosis in developing countries. Used together with the skin test, ELISPOT provides a clinically useful diagnostic sensitivity in African children with suspected tuberculosis.

Shams H, Klucar P, Weis SE, Lalvani A, Moonan PK, Safi H, Wizel B, Ewer K, Nepom GT, Lewinsohn DM et al. 2004. Characterization of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis peptide that is recognized by human CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the context of multiple HLA alleles. J Immunol, 173 (3), pp. 1966-1977. | Show Abstract | Read more

The secreted Mycobacterium tuberculosis 10-kDa culture filtrate protein (CFP)10 is a potent T cell Ag that is recognized by a high percentage of persons infected with M. tuberculosis. We determined the molecular basis for this widespread recognition by identifying and characterizing a 15-mer peptide, CFP10(71-85), that elicited IFN-gamma production and CTL activity by both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells from persons expressing multiple MHC class II and class I molecules, respectively. CFP10(71-85) contained at least two epitopes, one of 10 aa (peptide T1) and another of 9 aa (peptide T6). T1 was recognized by CD4(+) cells in the context of DRB1*04, DR5*0101, and DQB1*03, and by CD8(+) cells of A2(+) donors. T6 elicited responses by CD4(+) cells in the context of DRB1*04 and DQB1*03, and by CD8(+) cells of B35(+) donors. Deleting a single amino acid from the amino or carboxy terminus of either peptide markedly reduced IFN-gamma production, suggesting that they are minimal epitopes for both CD4(+) and CD8(+) cells. As far as we are aware, these are the shortest microbial peptides that have been found to elicit responses by both T cell subpopulations. The capacity of CFP10(71-85) to stimulate IFN-gamma production and CTL activity by CD4(+) and CD8(+) cells from persons expressing a spectrum of MHC molecules suggests that this peptide is an excellent candidate for inclusion in a subunit antituberculosis vaccine.

Richeldi L, Ewer K, Losi M, Bergamini BM, Roversi P, Deeks J, Fabbri LM, Lalvani A. 2004. T cell-based tracking of multidrug resistant tuberculosis infection after brief exposure. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 170 (3), pp. 288-295. | Show Abstract | Read more

Molecular epidemiology indicates significant transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis after casual contact with infectious tuberculosis cases. We investigated M. tuberculosis transmission after brief exposure using a T cell-based assay, the enzyme-linked-immunospot (ELISPOT) for IFN-gamma. After childbirth, a mother was diagnosed with sputum smear-positive multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Forty-one neonates and 47 adults were present during her admission on the maternity unit; 11 weeks later, all underwent tuberculin skin testing (TST) and ELISPOT. We correlated test results with markers of exposure to the index case. The participants, who were asymptomatic and predominantly had no prior tuberculosis exposure, had 6.05 hours mean exposure (range: 0-65 hours) to the index case. Seventeen individuals, including two newborns, were ELISPOT-positive, and ELISPOT results correlated significantly with three of four predefined measures of tuberculosis exposure. For each hour sharing room air with the index case, the odds of a positive ELISPOT result increased by 1.05 (95% CI: 1.02-1.09, p = 0.003). Only four adults were TST-positive and TST results did not correlate with exposure. Thus, ELISPOT, but not TST, suggested quite extensive nosocomial transmission of multidrug-resistant M. tuberculosis after brief exposure. These results help to explain the apparent importance of casual contact for tuberculosis transmission, and may have implications for prevention.

Richeldi L, Ewer K, Losi M, Hansell DM, Roversi P, Fabbri LM, Lalvani A. 2004. Early diagnosis of subclinical multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Ann Intern Med, 140 (9), pp. 709-713. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis control hinges on prompt diagnosis of active cases and screening of contacts by tuberculin skin testing. Rapid blood tests for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection are a new alternative to the tuberculin skin test, but whether they improve clinical outcomes is unknown. OBJECTIVE: To describe how a novel T-cell-based test for M. tuberculosis infection helped diagnose tuberculosis in an asymptomatic, immunosuppressed adult with a negative result on a tuberculin skin test. DESIGN: Case report. SETTING: Household contact. PATIENTS: Asymptomatic man receiving maintenance azathioprine therapy for Crohn disease whose wife had multidrug-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis. MEASUREMENTS: Enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay, computed tomography, and bronchoalveolar lavage cultures. RESULTS: The man had a negative tuberculin skin test result and a positive ELISPOT assay result. High-resolution computed tomography of the chest showed consolidation with early cavitation. Bronchoalveolar lavage and culture confirmed multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. LIMITATIONS: This single case report is a proof of concept and is not a formal evaluation of clinical utility. CONCLUSIONS: A positive ELISPOT assay result helped diagnose subclinical active tuberculosis in an immunosuppressed patient with a false-negative tuberculin skin test result. Large prospective studies that compare benefits and costs of this alternative to tuberculin skin testing are needed.

Liu X-Q, Dosanjh D, Varia H, Ewer K, Cockle P, Pasvol G, Lalvani A. 2004. Evaluation of T-cell responses to novel RD1- and RD2-encoded Mycobacterium tuberculosis gene products for specific detection of human tuberculosis infection. Infect Immun, 72 (5), pp. 2574-2581. | Show Abstract | Read more

The tuberculin skin test for diagnosing Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection suffers from antigenic cross-reactivity of purified protein derivative with BCG, resulting in poor specificity in BCG-vaccinated populations. Comparative genomics has identified several genetic regions in M. tuberculosis and M. bovis that are deleted in M. bovis BCG. Proteins encoded in these regions will form the basis of new specific T-cell-based blood tests that do not cross-react with BCG, but only two, early secretory antigen target 6 and culture filtrate protein 10, have been studied in detail in humans. We investigated four novel gene products, encoded by RD2 (Rv1989c) and RD1 (Rv3873, Rv3878, and Rv3879c), that are absent from most or all of the vaccine strains of BCG, respectively. Sixty-seven overlapping peptides were tested in ex vivo gamma interferon enzyme-linked immunospot assays in 49 patients with culture-confirmed tuberculosis and 38 healthy BCG-vaccinated donors. Forty-five percent (95% confidence interval [CI], 31 to 57%) and 53% (95% CI, 39 to 67%) of the tuberculosis patients responded to Rv3879c and Rv3873, respectively, identifying these proteins as major M. tuberculosis T-cell antigens in humans, while 35 and 25% of the patients responded to Rv3878 and Rv1989c, respectively. Of the 38 BCG-vaccinated donors, 1 (2.6%) responded to peptides from Rv3878 and Rv3879c, 3 (7.9%) responded to Rv3873, and none responded to Rv1989c. Exclusion of cross-reactive peptides encoded in conserved motifs of Rv3873, a PPE family member, increased its specificity to 97.4%. The high specificity of Rv3879c peptides and nonconserved Rv3873 sequences, together with their moderate sensitivity in tuberculosis patients, identifies these peptides as candidates for inclusion in new T-cell-based tests for M. tuberculosis infection.

Lalvani A, Ewer K, Bryant G, Monk P. 2003. Diagnosis of tuberculosis - Reply LANCET, 361 (9374), pp. 2082-2083. | Read more

Ewer K, Deeks J, Alvarez L, Bryant G, Waller S, Andersen P, Monk P, Lalvani A. 2003. Comparison of T-cell-based assay with tuberculin skin test for diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in a school tuberculosis outbreak. Lancet, 361 (9364), pp. 1168-1173. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection relies on the tuberculin skin test (TST), which has many drawbacks. However, to find out whether new tests are better than TST is difficult because of the lack of a gold standard test for latent infection. We developed and assessed a sensitive enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay to detect T cells specific for Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens that are absent from Mycobacterium bovis BCG and most environmental mycobacteria. We postulated that if the ELISPOT is a more accurate test of latent infection than TST, it should correlate better with degree of exposure to M tuberculosis. METHODS: A large tuberculosis outbreak in a UK school resulted from one infectious index case. We tested 535 students for M tuberculosis infection with TST and ELISPOT. We compared the correlation of these tests with degree of exposure to the index case and BCG vaccination. FINDINGS: Although agreement between the tests was high (89% concordance, kappa=0.72, p<0.0001), ELISPOT correlated significantly more closely with M tuberculosis exposure than did TST on the basis of measures of proximity (p=0.03) and duration of exposure (p=0.007) to the index case. TST was significantly more likely to be positive in BCG-vaccinated than in non-vaccinated students (p=0.002), whereas ELISPOT results were not associated with BCG vaccination (p=0.44). INTERPRETATION: ELISPOT offers a more accurate approach than TST for identification of individuals who have latent tuberculosis infection and could improve tuberculosis control by more precise targeting of preventive treatment.

Wood PR, Jones SL. 2003. Diagnosis of tuberculosis The Lancet, 361 (9374), pp. 2081-2082. | Read more

Chapman ALN, Munkanta M, Wilkinson KA, Pathan AA, Ewer K, Ayles H, Reece WH, Mwinga A, Godfrey-Faussett P, Lalvani A. 2002. Rapid detection of active and latent tuberculosis infection in HIV-positive individuals by enumeration of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific T cells. AIDS, 16 (17), pp. 2285-2293. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: An accurate test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is urgently needed. The tuberculin skin test (TST) lacks sensitivity, particularly in HIV-infected individuals, and has poor specificity because of antigenic cross-reactivity with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination. ESAT-6 and CFP-10 are antigens expressed in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but not in Mycobacterium bovis BCG and most environmental mycobacteria. We investigated whether T cells specific for these antigens could serve as accurate markers of M. tuberculosis infection in an area of high tuberculosis and HIV prevalence. METHODS: Using the rapid ex-vivo enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay for IFN-gamma, we enumerated T cells specific for ESAT-6, CFP-10 and purified protein derivative (PPD) in blood samples from 50 Zambian tuberculosis patients, 75 healthy Zambian adults, and 40 healthy UK residents. TSTs were performed in 49 healthy Zambian adults. RESULTS: All (100%; n = 11) and 90% (n = 39) of HIV-negative and HIV-positive tuberculosis patients, respectively, had detectable ESAT-6- or CFP-10-specific T cells. The ESAT-6/CFP-10-based ELISPOT assay was positive in 37 out of 54 HIV-negative healthy Zambians, suggesting a 69% prevalence of latent M. tuberculosis infection. Fewer HIV-positive Zambians possessed ESAT-6/CFP-10-specific T cells, but the impact of HIV infection was less on this assay than on the PPD-based ELISPOT or TST. CONCLUSION: The ESAT-6/CFP-10-based ELISPOT assay detects active tuberculosis in HIV-positive individuals with high sensitivity. It is more specific, and possibly more sensitive, than PPD-based methods of detecting latent M. tuberculosis infection, and may potentially improve the targeting of isoniazid preventative therapy to HIV-positive individuals with latent tuberculosis infection.

Lalvani A, Nagvenkar P, Udwadia Z, Pathan AA, Wilkinson KA, Shastri JS, Ewer K, Hill AV, Mehta A, Rodrigues C. 2001. Enumeration of T cells specific for RD1-encoded antigens suggests a high prevalence of latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in healthy urban Indians. J Infect Dis, 183 (3), pp. 469-477. | Show Abstract | Read more

Knowledge of the prevalence of latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is crucial for effective tuberculosis control, but tuberculin skin test surveys have major limitations, including poor specificity because of the broad antigenic cross-reactivity of tuberculin. The M. tuberculosis RD1 genomic segment encodes proteins, such as early secretory antigenic target (ESAT)-6, that are absent from M. bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and most environmental mycobacteria. We recently identified circulating ESAT-6-specific T cells as an accurate marker of M. tuberculosis infection. Here, interferon-gamma-secreting T cells specific for peptides derived from ESAT-6 and a second RD1 gene product, CFP10, were enumerated in 100 prospectively recruited healthy adults in Bombay (Mumbai), India. Eighty percent responded to >/=1 antigen, and many donors had high frequencies of T cells that were specific for certain immunodominant peptides. In contrast, of 40 mostly BCG-vaccinated, United Kingdom-resident healthy adults, none responded to either antigen. This study suggests an 80% prevalence of latent M. tuberculosis infection in urban India.

Mensah VA, Roetynck S, Kanteh EK, Bowyer G, Ndaw A, Oko F, Bliss CM, Jagne YJ, Cortese R, Nicosia A et al. 2017. Safety and Immunogenicity of Malaria Vectored Vaccines Given with Routine Expanded Program on Immunization Vaccines in Gambian Infants and Neonates: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Front Immunol, 8 (NOV), pp. 1551. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Heterologous prime-boost vaccination with chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) encoding multiple epitope string thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP) has shown acceptable safety and promising immunogenicity in African adult and pediatric populations. If licensed, this vaccine could be given to infants receiving routine childhood immunizations. We therefore evaluated responses to ChAd63 MVA ME-TRAP when co-administered with routine Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) vaccines. Methods: We enrolled 65 Gambian infants and neonates, aged 16, 8, or 1 week at first vaccination and randomized them to receive either ME-TRAP and EPI vaccines or EPI vaccines only. Safety was assessed by the description of vaccine-related adverse events (AEs). Immunogenicity was evaluated using IFNγ enzyme-linked immunospot, whole-blood flow cytometry, and anti-TRAP IgG ELISA. Serology was performed to confirm all infants achieved protective titers to EPI vaccines. Results: The vaccines were well tolerated in all age groups with no vaccine-related serious AEs. High-level TRAP-specific IgG and T cell responses were generated after boosting with MVA. CD8+ T cell responses, previously found to correlate with protection, were induced in all groups. Antibody responses to EPI vaccines were not altered significantly. Conclusion: Malaria vectored prime-boost vaccines co-administered with routine childhood immunizations were well tolerated. Potent humoral and cellular immunity induced by ChAd63 MVA ME-TRAP did not reduce the immunogenicity of co-administered EPI vaccines, supporting further evaluation of this regimen in infant populations. Clinical Trial Registration: The clinical trial was registered on http://Clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02083887) and the Pan-African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR201402000749217).

Venkatraman N, Anagnostou N, Bliss C, Bowyer G, Wright D, Lövgren-Bengtsson K, Roberts R, Poulton I, Lawrie A, Ewer K, V S Hill A. 2017. Safety and immunogenicity of heterologous prime-boost immunization with viral-vectored malaria vaccines adjuvanted with Matrix-M™. Vaccine, 35 (45), pp. 6208-6217. | Show Abstract | Read more

The use of viral vectors in heterologous prime-boost regimens to induce potent T cell responses in addition to humoral immunity is a promising vaccination strategy in the fight against malaria. We conducted an open-label, first-in-human, controlled Phase I study evaluating the safety and immunogenicity of Matrix-M adjuvanted vaccination with a chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63) prime followed by a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) boost eight weeks later, both encoding the malaria ME-TRAP antigenic sequence (a multiple epitope string fused to thrombospondin-related adhesion protein). Twenty-two healthy adults were vaccinated intramuscularly with either ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP alone (n=6) or adjuvanted with 25μg (n=8) or 50μg (n=8) Matrix-M. Vaccinations appeared to be safe and generally well tolerated, with the majority of local and systemic adverse events being mild in nature. The addition of Matrix-M to the vaccine did not increase local reactogenicity; however, systemic adverse events were reported more frequently by volunteers who received adjuvanted vaccine in comparison to the control group. T cell ELISpot responses peaked at 7-days post boost vaccination with MVA ME-TRAP in all three groups. TRAP-specific IgG responses were highest at 28-days post boost with MVA ME-TRAP in all three groups. There were no differences in cellular and humoral immunogenicity at any of the time points between the control group and the adjuvanted groups. We demonstrate that Matrix-M can be safely used in combination with ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP heterologous prime-boost immunization without any reduction in cellular or humoral immunogenicity. Clinical Trials Registration NCT01669512.

Ford T, Wenden C, Mbekeani A, Dally L, Cox JH, Morin M, Winstone N, Hill AVS, Gilmour J, Ewer KJ. 2017. Cryopreservation-related loss of antigen-specific IFNγ producing CD4+ T-cells can skew immunogenicity data in vaccine trials: Lessons from a malaria vaccine trial substudy. Vaccine, 35 (15), pp. 1898-1906. | Show Abstract | Read more

Ex vivo functional immunoassays such as ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) by flow cytometry are crucial tools in vaccine development both in the identification of novel immunogenic targets and in the immunological assessment of samples from clinical trials. Cryopreservation and subsequent thawing of PBMCs via validated processes has become a mainstay of clinical trials due to processing restrictions inherent in the disparate location and capacity of trial centres, and also in the need to standardize biological assays at central testing facilities. Logistical and financial requirement to batch process samples from multiple study timepoints are also key. We used ELISpot and ICS assays to assess antigen-specific immunogenicity in blood samples taken from subjects enrolled in a phase II malaria heterologous prime-boost vaccine trial and showed that the freeze thaw process can result in a 3-5-fold reduction of malaria antigen-specific IFNγ-producing CD3+CD4+ effector populations from PBMC samples taken post vaccination. We have also demonstrated that peptide responsive CD8+ T cells are relatively unaffected, as well as CD4+ T cell populations that do not produce IFNγ. These findings contribute to a growing body of data that could be consolidated and synthesised as guidelines for clinical trials with the aim of increasing the efficiency of vaccine development pipelines.

Bliss CM, Drammeh A, Bowyer G, Sanou GS, Jagne YJ, Ouedraogo O, Edwards NJ, Tarama C, Ouedraogo N, Ouedraogo M et al. 2017. Viral Vector Malaria Vaccines Induce High-Level T Cell and Antibody Responses in West African Children and Infants. Mol Ther, 25 (2), pp. 547-559. | Show Abstract | Read more

Heterologous prime-boosting with viral vectors encoding the pre-erythrocytic antigen thrombospondin-related adhesion protein fused to a multiple epitope string (ME-TRAP) induces CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity to malaria sporozoite challenge in European malaria-naive and Kenyan semi-immune adults. This approach has yet to be evaluated in children and infants. We assessed this vaccine strategy among 138 Gambian and Burkinabe children in four cohorts: 2- to 6-year olds in The Gambia, 5- to 17-month-olds in Burkina Faso, and 5- to 12-month-olds and 10-week-olds in The Gambia. We assessed induction of cellular immunity, taking into account the distinctive hematological status of young infants, and characterized the antibody response to vaccination. T cell responses peaked 7 days after boosting with modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), with highest responses in infants aged 10 weeks at priming. Incorporating lymphocyte count into the calculation of T cell responses facilitated a more physiologically relevant comparison of cellular immunity across different age groups. Both CD8+ and CD4+ T cells secreted cytokines. Induced antibodies were up to 20-fold higher in all groups compared with Gambian and United Kingdom (UK) adults, with comparable or higher avidity. This immunization regimen elicited strong immune responses, particularly in young infants, supporting future evaluation of efficacy in this key target age group for a malaria vaccine.

Rampling T, Ewer KJ, Bowyer G, Bliss CM, Edwards NJ, Wright D, Payne RO, Venkatraman N, de Barra E, Snudden CM et al. 2016. Safety and High Level Efficacy of the Combination Malaria Vaccine Regimen of RTS,S/AS01B With Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 and Modified Vaccinia Ankara Vectored Vaccines Expressing ME-TRAP. J Infect Dis, 214 (5), pp. 772-781. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The need for a highly efficacious vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum remains pressing. In this controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) study, we assessed the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of a schedule combining 2 distinct vaccine types in a staggered immunization regimen: one inducing high-titer antibodies to circumsporozoite protein (RTS,S/AS01B) and the other inducing potent T-cell responses to thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (TRAP) by using a viral vector. METHOD: Thirty-seven healthy malaria-naive adults were vaccinated with either a chimpanzee adenovirus 63 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara-vectored vaccine expressing a multiepitope string fused to TRAP and 3 doses of RTS,S/AS01B (group 1; n = 20) or 3 doses of RTS,S/AS01B alone (group 2; n = 17). CHMI was delivered by mosquito bites to 33 vaccinated subjects at week 12 after the first vaccination and to 6 unvaccinated controls. RESULTS: No suspected unexpected serious adverse reactions or severe adverse events related to vaccination were reported. Protective vaccine efficacy was observed in 14 of 17 subjects (82.4%) in group 1 and 12 of 16 subjects (75%) in group 2. All control subjects received a diagnosis of blood-stage malaria parasite infection. Both vaccination regimens were immunogenic. Fourteen protected subjects underwent repeat CHMI 6 months after initial CHMI; 7 of 8 (87.5%) in group 1 and 5 of 6 (83.3%) in group 2 remained protected. CONCLUSIONS: The high level of sterile efficacy observed in this trial is encouraging for further evaluation of combination approaches using these vaccine types. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT01883609.

Afolabi MO, Tiono AB, Adetifa UJ, Yaro JB, Drammeh A, Nébié I, Bliss C, Hodgson SH, Anagnostou NA, Sanou GS et al. 2016. Safety and Immunogenicity of ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP in West African Children and Infants. Mol Ther, 24 (8), pp. 1470-1477. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria remains a significant global health burden and a vaccine would make a substantial contribution to malaria control. Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 Modified Vaccinia Ankara Multiple epitope thrombospondin adhesion protein (ME-TRAP) and vaccination has shown significant efficacy against malaria sporozoite challenge in malaria-naive European volunteers and against malaria infection in Kenyan adults. Infants are the target age group for malaria vaccination; however, no studies have yet assessed T-cell responses in children and infants. We enrolled 138 Gambian and Burkinabe children in four different age-groups: 2-6 years old in The Gambia; 5-17 months old in Burkina Faso; 5-12 months old, and also 10 weeks old, in The Gambia; and evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 Modified Vaccinia Ankara ME-TRAP heterologous prime-boost immunization. The vaccines were well tolerated in all age groups with no vaccine-related serious adverse events. T-cell responses to vaccination peaked 7 days after boosting with Modified Vaccinia Ankara, with T-cell responses highest in 10 week-old infants. Heterologous prime-boost immunization with Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 and Modified Vaccinia Ankara ME-TRAP was well tolerated in infants and children, inducing strong T-cell responses. We identify an approach that induces potent T-cell responses in infants, which may be useful for preventing other infectious diseases requiring cellular immunity.

Ewer KJ, Lambe T, Rollier CS, Spencer AJ, Hill AV, Dorrell L. 2016. Viral vectors as vaccine platforms: from immunogenicity to impact. Curr Opin Immunol, 41 pp. 47-54. | Show Abstract | Read more

Viral vectors are the vaccine platform of choice for many pathogens that have thwarted efforts towards control using conventional vaccine approaches. Although the STEP trial encumbered development of recombinant human adenovirus vectors only a few years ago, replication-deficient simian adenoviruses have since emerged as a crucial component of clinically effective prime-boost regimens. The vectors discussed here elicit functionally relevant cellular and humoral immune responses, at extremes of age and in diverse populations. The recent Ebola virus outbreak highlighted the utility of viral vectored vaccines in facilitating a rapid response to public health emergencies. Meanwhile, technological advances in manufacturing to support scale-up of viral vectored vaccines have helped to consolidate their position as a leading approach to tackling 'old' and emerging infections.

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.).

Ewer KJ, Sierra-Davidson K, Salman AM, Illingworth JJ, Draper SJ, Biswas S, Hill AVS. 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.

Ogwang C, Kimani D, Edwards NJ, Roberts R, Mwacharo J, Bowyer G, Bliss C, Hodgson SH, Njuguna P, Viebig NK et al. 2015. Prime-boost vaccination with chimpanzee adenovirus and modified vaccinia Ankara encoding TRAP provides partial protection against Plasmodium falciparum infection in Kenyan adults. Sci Transl Med, 7 (286), pp. 286re5. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protective immunity to the liver stage of the malaria parasite can be conferred by vaccine-induced T cells, but no subunit vaccination approach based on cellular immunity has shown efficacy in field studies. We randomly allocated 121 healthy adult male volunteers in Kilifi, Kenya, to vaccination with the recombinant viral vectors chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), both encoding the malaria peptide sequence ME-TRAP (the multiple epitope string and thrombospondin-related adhesion protein), or to vaccination with rabies vaccine as a control. We gave antimalarials to clear parasitemia and conducted PCR (polymerase chain reaction) analysis on blood samples three times a week to identify infection with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. On Cox regression, vaccination reduced the risk of infection by 67% [95% confidence interval (CI), 33 to 83%; P = 0.002] during 8 weeks of monitoring. T cell responses to TRAP peptides 21 to 30 were significantly associated with protection (hazard ratio, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.08 to 0.75; P = 0.016).

Hodgson SH, Ewer KJ, Bliss CM, Edwards NJ, Rampling T, Anagnostou NA, de Barra E, Havelock T, Bowyer G, Poulton ID et al. 2015. Evaluation of the efficacy of ChAd63-MVA vectored vaccines expressing circumsporozoite protein and ME-TRAP against controlled human malaria infection in malaria-naive individuals. J Infect Dis, 211 (7), pp. 1076-1086. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Circumsporozoite protein (CS) is the antigenic target for RTS,S, the most advanced malaria vaccine to date. Heterologous prime-boost with the viral vectors simian adenovirus 63 (ChAd63)-modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is the most potent inducer of T-cells in humans, demonstrating significant efficacy when expressing the preerythrocytic antigen insert multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP). We hypothesized that ChAd63-MVA containing CS may result in a significant clinical protective efficacy. METHODS: We conducted an open-label, 2-site, partially randomized Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) study to compare the clinical efficacy of ChAd63-MVA CS with ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP. RESULTS: One of 15 vaccinees (7%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 2 of 15 (13%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP achieved sterile protection after CHMI. Three of 15 vaccinees (20%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 5 of 15 (33%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP demonstrated a delay in time to treatment, compared with unvaccinated controls. In quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses, ChAd63-MVA CS was estimated to reduce the liver parasite burden by 69%-79%, compared with 79%-84% for ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP. CONCLUSIONS: ChAd63-MVA CS does reduce the liver parasite burden, but ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP remains the most promising antigenic insert for a vectored liver-stage vaccine. Detailed analyses of parasite kinetics may allow detection of smaller but biologically important differences in vaccine efficacy that can influence future vaccine development. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT01623557.

Longley RJ, Salman AM, Cottingham MG, Ewer K, Janse CJ, Khan SM, Spencer AJ, Hill AVS. 2015. Comparative assessment of vaccine vectors encoding ten malaria antigens identifies two protective liver-stage candidates. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 11820. | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of an efficacious Plasmodium falciparum malaria vaccine remains a top priority for global health. Vaccination with irradiated sporozoites is able to provide complete sterile protection through the action of CD8(+) T cells at the liver-stage of infection. However, this method is currently unsuitable for large-scale deployment and focus has instead turned to the development of sub-unit vaccines. Sub-unit vaccine efforts have traditionally focused on two well-known pre-erythrocytic antigens, CSP and TRAP, yet thousands of genes are expressed in the liver-stage. We sought to assess the ability of eight alternative P. falciparum pre-erythrocytic antigens to induce a high proportion of CD8(+) T cells. We show that all antigens, when expressed individually in the non-replicating viral vectors ChAd63 and MVA, are capable of inducing an immune response in mice. Furthermore, we also developed chimeric P. berghei parasites expressing the cognate P. falciparum antigen to enable assessment of efficacy in mice. Our preliminary results indicate that vectors encoding either PfLSA1 or PfLSAP2 are capable of inducing sterile protection dependent on the presence of CD8(+) T cells. This work has identified two promising P. falciparum liver-stage candidate antigens that will now undergo further testing in humans.

Kimani D, Jagne YJ, Cox M, Kimani E, Bliss CM, Gitau E, Ogwang C, Afolabi MO, Bowyer G, Collins KA et al. 2014. Translating the immunogenicity of prime-boost immunization with ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP from malaria naive to malaria-endemic populations. Mol Ther, 22 (11), pp. 1992-2003. | Show Abstract | Read more

To induce a deployable level of efficacy, a successful malaria vaccine would likely benefit from both potent cellular and humoral immunity. These requirements are met by a heterologous prime-boost immunization strategy employing a chimpanzee adenovirus vector followed by modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), both encoding the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen ME-thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP), with high immunogenicity and significant efficacy in UK adults. We undertook two phase 1b open-label studies in adults in Kenya and The Gambia in areas of similar seasonal malaria transmission dynamics and have previously reported safety and basic immunogenicity data. We now report flow cytometry and additional interferon (IFN)-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) data characterizing pre-existing and induced cellular immunity as well as anti-TRAP IgG responses. T-cell responses induced by vaccination averaged 1,254 spot-forming cells (SFC) per million peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) across both trials and flow cytometry revealed cytokine production from both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells with the frequency of CD8(+) IFN-γ-secreting monofunctional T cells (previously shown to associate with vaccine efficacy) particularly high in Kenyan adults. Immunization with ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP induced strong cellular and humoral immune responses in adults living in two malaria-endemic regions of Africa. This prime-boost approach targeting the pre-erythrocytic stage of the malaria life-cycle is now being assessed for efficacy in a target population.

Ewer KJ, O'Hara GA, Duncan CJA, 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.

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