Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a severe and often fatal disease in human and nonhuman primates, caused by the Ebola virus. Approximately 30 years after the first epidemic, there is no vaccine or therapeutic medication approved to counter the Ebola virus. In this dissertation, a geminiviral replicon system was used to produce Ebola immune complex (EIC) in plant leaves and tested it as an Ebola vaccine. The EIC was produced in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves by fusing Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP1) to the C-terminus of heavy chain of 6D8 monoclonal antibody (mAb), which is specific to the 6D8 epitope of GP1, and co-expressing the fusion with the light chain of 6D8 mAb. EIC was purified by ammonium sulfate precipitation and protein A or protein G affinity chromatography. EIC was shown to be immunogenic in mice, but the level of antibody against Ebola virus was not sufficient to protect the mice from lethal the Ebola challenge. Hence, different adjuvants were tested in order to improve the immunogenicity of the EIC. Among several adjuvants that we used, Poly(I:C), which is a synthetic analog of double-stranded ribonucleic acid that can interact with a Toll-like receptor 3, strongly increased the efficacy of our Ebola vaccine. The mice immunized with EIC co-administered with Poly(I:C) produced high levels of neutralizing anti-Ebola IgG, and 80% of the mice were protected from the lethal Ebola virus challenge. Moreover, the EIC induced a predominant T-helper type 1 (Th1) response, whereas Poly(I:C) co-delivered with the EIC stimulated a mixed Th1/Th2 response. This result suggests that the protection against lethal Ebola challenge requires both Th1 and Th2 responses. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that the plant-produced EIC co-delivered with Poly(I:C) induced strong and protective immune responses to the Ebola virus in mice. These results support plant-produced EIC as a good vaccine candidate against the Ebola virus. It should be pursued further in primate studies, and eventually in clinical trials.
- Plant-produced Ebola immune complex as an Ebola vaccine candidate
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Statement of Responsibility
by Waranyoo Phoolcharoen