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Intranasal HD-Ad Vaccine Protects the Upper and Lower Respiratory Tracts of hACE2 Mice against SARS-CoV-2

By Huibi Cao, Juntao Mai, Zhichang Zhou, Zhijie Li, Rongqi Duan, Jacqueline Watt, Ziyan Chen, Ranmal Avinash Bandara, Ming Li, Sang Kyun Ahn, Betty Boon, Natasha Christie, Scott Gray-Owen, Rob Kozak, Samira Mubareka, James M Rini, Jim Hu, Jun Liu

Posted 09 Apr 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.04.08.439006

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than 120 million people and resulted in over 2.8 million deaths worldwide. Several COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for emergency use in humans and are being used in many countries. However, all of the approved vaccines are administered by intramuscular injection and this may not prevent upper airway infection or viral transmission. Here, we describe intranasal immunization of a COVID-19 vaccine delivered by a novel platform, the helper-dependent adenoviral (HD-Ad) vector. Since HD-Ad vectors are devoid of adenoviral coding sequences, they have a superior safety profile and a large cloning capacity for transgenes. The vaccine (HD-Ad_RBD) codes for the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and intranasal immunization induced robust mucosal and systemic immunity. Moreover, intranasal immunization of K18-hACE2 mice with HD-Ad_RBD using a prime-boost regimen, resulted in complete protection of the upper respiratory tract against SARS-CoV-2 infection. As such, intranasal immunization based on the HD-Ad vector promises to provide a powerful platform for constructing highly effective vaccines targeting SARS-CoV-2 and its emerging variants.

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