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A universal bacteriophage T4 nanoparticle platform to design multiplex SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates by CRISPR engineering

Jingen Zhu, Neeti Ananthaswamy, Swati Jain, Himanshu Batra, Wei-Chun Tang, Douglass A. Lewry, Michael L. Richards, , Paul B. Kilgore, Jian Sha,
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Abstract: A “universal” platform that can rapidly generate multiplex vaccine candidates is critically needed to control pandemics. Using the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 as a model, we have developed such a platform by CRISPR engineering of bacteriophage T4. A pipeline of vaccine candidates was engineered by incorporating various viral components into appropriate compartments of phage nanoparticle structure. These include expressible spike genes in genome, spike and envelope epitopes as surface decorations, and nucleocapsid proteins in packaged core. Phage decorated with spike trimers was found to be the most potent vaccine candidate in animal models. Without any adjuvant, this vaccine stimulated robust immune responses, both T helper cell 1 (TH1) and TH2 immunoglobulin G subclasses, blocked virus-receptor interactions, neutralized viral infection, and conferred complete protection against viral challenge. This new nanovaccine design framework might allow the rapid deployment of effective adjuvant-free phage-based vaccines against any emerging pathogen in the future.
Keywords: models / multiplex / decorations / spike / vaccine candidates / universal / packaged / proteins

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