COVID-19 Variant Supplement – Development of a novel DC-targeting vaccine that targets COVID‑19 spike protein to control COVID‑19 infection

Yao, Xiao-Jian | $50,000

Manitoba University of Manitoba 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

COVID‑19 is a coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness that was first detected in Wuhan, China. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID‑19 infection. The spike protein (SP) of the virus is the key molecule for entry into a cell and is a main target of host protective immune responses. A receptor-binding domain (RBD) located in SP is essential for the infection of COVID-19. Previous studies have demonstrated that RBD of SARS-CoV consists of multiple neutralizing epitopes that induce highly potent neutralizing antibodies. The neutralizing antibody can bind to SARS-CoV and interferes with its ability to infect a cell. These findings suggest that RBD of COVID‑19 is an ideal anti-COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Dendritic cells (DCs) are antigen-presenting cells that play critical roles to efficiently present viral antigens to the T cells of the immune system. Therefore, targeting DCs is a promising strategy to improve vaccine effectiveness. Recently, we have developed a highly efficient DC-targeted vaccination technology, and in this study, we will use this vaccination technology to expose the RBD of COVID‑19 to host immune system. We will also investigate the potential of this novel vaccine approach to elicit potent immune responses against COVID‑19 and SARS-CoV infections in vivo. The success of this proposed study will lay the groundwork for the quick development and production of anti-COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and contribute to a rapid response towards controlling the COVID‑19 pandemic in China and worldwide

With funding from the Government of Canada

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