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1.  Protection from Ebola Virus Mediated by Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes Specific for the Viral Nucleoprotein 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(6):2660-2664.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are proposed to be critical for protection from intracellular pathogens such as Ebola virus. However, there have been no demonstrations that protection against Ebola virus is mediated by Ebola virus-specific CTLs. Here, we report that C57BL/6 mice vaccinated with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicons encoding the Ebola virus nucleoprotein (NP) survived lethal challenge with Ebola virus. Vaccination induced both antibodies to the NP and a major histocompatibility complex class I-restricted CTL response to an 11-amino-acid sequence in the amino-terminal portion of the Ebola virus NP. Passive transfer of polyclonal NP-specific antiserum did not protect recipient mice. In contrast, adoptive transfer of CTLs specific for the Ebola virus NP protected unvaccinated mice from lethal Ebola virus challenge. The protective CTLs were CD8+, restricted to the Db class I molecule, and recognized an epitope within amino acids 43 to 53 (VYQVNNLEEIC) in the Ebola virus NP. The demonstration that CTLs can prevent lethal Ebola virus infection affects vaccine development in that protective cellular immune responses may be required for optimal protection from Ebola virus.
doi:10.1128/JVI.75.6.2660-2664.2001
PMCID: PMC115890  PMID: 11222689
2.  Immune Protection of Nonhuman Primates against Ebola Virus with Single Low-Dose Adenovirus Vectors Encoding Modified GPs 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e177.
Background
Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever syndrome that is associated with high mortality in humans. In the absence of effective therapies for Ebola virus infection, the development of a vaccine becomes an important strategy to contain outbreaks. Immunization with DNA and/or replication-defective adenoviral vectors (rAd) encoding the Ebola glycoprotein (GP) and nucleoprotein (NP) has been previously shown to confer specific protective immunity in nonhuman primates. GP can exert cytopathic effects on transfected cells in vitro, and multiple GP forms have been identified in nature, raising the question of which would be optimal for a human vaccine.
Methods and Findings
To address this question, we have explored the efficacy of mutant GPs from multiple Ebola virus strains with reduced in vitro cytopathicity and analyzed their protective effects in the primate challenge model, with or without NP. Deletion of the GP transmembrane domain eliminated in vitro cytopathicity but reduced its protective efficacy by at least one order of magnitude. In contrast, a point mutation was identified that abolished this cytopathicity but retained immunogenicity and conferred immune protection in the absence of NP. The minimal effective rAd dose was established at 1010 particles, two logs lower than that used previously.
Conclusions
Expression of specific GPs alone vectored by rAd are sufficient to confer protection against lethal challenge in a relevant nonhuman primate model. Elimination of NP from the vaccine and dose reductions to 1010 rAd particles do not diminish protection and simplify the vaccine, providing the basis for selection of a human vaccine candidate.
A simplified Ebola vaccine that consists of a modified GP protein (which is well-tolerated by human cells even at high concentrations) in a replication-defective adenoviral vector protects macaques.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Humans who get infected with Ebola virus develop an illness called Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHV), which is one of the most deadly viral diseases known; 50%–90% of all ill patients die, and there is no available treatment for EHV. Scientists think that the occasional outbreaks of the disease occur because the virus “jumps” from an infected animal to a person (a rare event) and then is transmitted between people by direct contact with infected blood or other body fluids or parts. Several strains or variants of the Ebola virus exist. Most outbreaks have been caused either by the Zaire strain or by the Sudan/Gulu strain (so-called because that is where the particular virus was first isolated). Scientists are working on a vaccine against Ebola that could be given to people before they get infected and then protect them when they come in contact with the virus. A number of candidate vaccines have been developed and tested in animals.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers who did this study are working on a vaccine that consists of two particular parts of the virus. One part is called GP (which stands for glycoprotein) and is from the outer coat of the virus; the other, NP (nucleoprotein), is from its inside. Without the rest of the virus, GP and NP cannot cause EBV. However, the hope is that giving these parts of the virus to an individual can educate their immune system to build a response against GP and NP, which would then recognize the virus should the vaccinated person become infected with the whole virus, and destroy it before it can cause disease. To get the GP and NP parts into the body so that they can cause a strong immune response (which is what effective vaccines do), the researchers used a manmade version of another, harmless virus called recombinant adenovirus 5 (or rAd5) to carry the NP and GP. The researchers have shown previously that this strategy for introducing a vaccine works in animals. The vaccine—i.e., the combination of the rAd5 virus and the two Ebola virus parts—can protect animals against subsequent infection with real Ebola virus that would otherwise kill them. However, during these earlier studies, the researchers had noticed that the GP part, when present at high levels, seemed to make human cells sick. They had not seen any similar problems in the experimental animals, but to be on the safe side they decided to see whether they could change the GP part so that it would still be effective as a vaccine but no longer make human cells sick.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They changed the GP part of the vaccine in different ways so that it would no longer make human cells sick and then tested whether the resulting vaccines (combined with the original NP part and the Ad5 virus) could still protect monkeys from EHF after they were infected with Ebola virus. They found that some of the new GP versions made the vaccine less effective, but others did what they had hoped for; namely, they gave the same level of protection as when the original GP part was present. While doing these experiments, the researchers also found that the NP component seemed unnecessary and in some cases even weakened the vaccine's effect.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers have now developed a simplified vaccine against Ebola virus that is effective in monkeys. This vaccine consists of only a modified GP component (which is well tolerated by human cells even at high concentrations) and the rAd5 component. This vaccine is not the only candidate currently being developed against Ebola, but it seems likely that it is one of a few that will be tested in human volunteers in the near future. The initial clinical trials will test whether the vaccine is safe in humans, and whether it can cause the immune system to produce an immune response that is specific for the Ebola virus. Assuming that the outcomes of these trials are positive, the next question is whether the vaccine can protect humans against Ebola disease. Because Ebola is so dangerous and outbreaks are relatively rare, the vaccine will likely be tested only during an actual outbreak. At that time, an experimental vaccine might be given to people at immediate risk of becoming infected, especially health-care workers who, because they take care of infected patients, are themselves at very high risk of becoming infected. In addition to trials in humans, the scientists will also explore whether this vaccine, which was developed based on the GP component of the Zaire strain, can protect monkeys against infections with other strains of the Ebola virus.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030177.
• World Health Organization
• MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Wikipedia (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030177
PMCID: PMC1459482  PMID: 16683867
3.  Individual and Bivalent Vaccines Based on Alphavirus Replicons Protect Guinea Pigs against Infection with Lassa and Ebola Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(23):11677-11685.
Lassa and Ebola viruses cause acute, often fatal, hemorrhagic fever diseases, for which no effective vaccines are currently available. Although lethal human disease outbreaks have been confined so far to sub-Saharan Africa, they also pose significant epidemiological concern worldwide as demonstrated by several instances of accidental importation of the viruses into North America and Europe. In the present study, we developed experimental individual vaccines for Lassa virus and bivalent vaccines for Lassa and Ebola viruses that are based on an RNA replicon vector derived from an attenuated strain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus. The Lassa and Ebola virus genes were expressed from recombinant replicon RNAs that also encoded the replicase function and were capable of efficient intracellular self-amplification. For vaccinations, the recombinant replicons were incorporated into virus-like replicon particles. Guinea pigs vaccinated with particles expressing Lassa virus nucleoprotein or glycoprotein genes were protected from lethal challenge with Lassa virus. Vaccination with particles expressing Ebola virus glycoprotein gene also protected the animals from lethal challenge with Ebola virus. In order to evaluate a single vaccine protecting against both Lassa and Ebola viruses, we developed dual-expression particles that expressed glycoprotein genes of both Ebola and Lassa viruses. Vaccination of guinea pigs with either dual-expression particles or with a mixture of particles expressing Ebola and Lassa virus glycoprotein genes protected the animals against challenges with Ebola and Lassa viruses. The results showed that immune responses can be induced against multiple vaccine antigens coexpressed from an alphavirus replicon and suggested the possibility of engineering multivalent vaccines based upon alphavirus vectors for arenaviruses, filoviruses, and possibly other emerging pathogens.
doi:10.1128/JVI.75.23.11677-11685.2001
PMCID: PMC114754  PMID: 11689649
4.  Ebola virus glycoprotein Fc fusion protein confers protection against lethal challenge in vaccinated mice 
Vaccine  2011;29(16):2968-2977.
Ebola virus is a Filoviridae that causes hemorrhagic fever in humans and induces high morbidity and mortality rates. Filoviruses are classified as "Category A bioterrorism agents", and currently there are no licensed therapeutics or vaccines to treat and prevent infection. The Filovirus glycoprotein (GP) is sufficient to protect individuals against infection, and several vaccines based on GP are under development including recombinant adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and virus-like particles. Here we describe the development of a GP Fc fusion protein as a vaccine candidate. We expressed the extracellular domain of the Zaire Ebola virus (ZEBOV) GP fused to the Fc fragment of human IgG1 (ZEBOVGP-Fc) in mammalian cells and showed that GP undergoes the complex furin cleavage and processing observed in the native membrane-bound GP. Mice immunized with ZEBOVGP-Fc developed T-cell immunity against ZEBOV GP and neutralizing antibodies against replication-competent VSV-G deleted recombinant VSV containing ZEBOV GP. The ZEBOVGP-Fc vaccinated mice were protected against challenge with a lethal dose of ZEBOV. These results show that vaccination with the ZEBOVGP-Fc fusion protein alone without the need of a viral vector or assembly into virus-like particles is sufficient to induce protective immunity against ZEBOV in mice. Our data suggested that Filovirus GP Fc fusion proteins could be developed as a simple, safe, efficacious, and cost effective vaccine against Filovirus infection for human use.
doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.01.113
PMCID: PMC3070761  PMID: 21329775
5.  Role of Natural Killer Cells in Innate Protection against Lethal Ebola Virus Infection 
Ebola virus is a highly lethal human pathogen and is rapidly driving many wild primate populations toward extinction. Several lines of evidence suggest that innate, nonspecific host factors are potentially critical for survival after Ebola virus infection. Here, we show that nonreplicating Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs), containing the glycoprotein (GP) and matrix protein virus protein (VP)40, administered 1–3 d before Ebola virus infection rapidly induced protective immunity. VLP injection enhanced the numbers of natural killer (NK) cells in lymphoid tissues. In contrast to live Ebola virus, VLP treatment of NK cells enhanced cytokine secretion and cytolytic activity against NK-sensitive targets. Unlike wild-type mice, treatment of NK-deficient or -depleted mice with VLPs had no protective effect against Ebola virus infection and NK cells treated with VLPs protected against Ebola virus infection when adoptively transferred to naive mice. The mechanism of NK cell–mediated protection clearly depended on perforin, but not interferon-γ secretion. Particles containing only VP40 were sufficient to induce NK cell responses and provide protection from infection in the absence of the viral GP. These findings revealed a decisive role for NK cells during lethal Ebola virus infection. This work should open new doors for better understanding of Ebola virus pathogenesis and direct the development of immunotherapeutics, which target the innate immune system, for treatment of Ebola virus infection.
doi:10.1084/jem.20032141
PMCID: PMC2212007  PMID: 15249592
virus-like particles; filoviruses; immunity; matrix protein; glycoprotein
6.  Vaccine Efficacy in Senescent Mice Challenged with Recombinant SARS-CoV Bearing Epidemic and Zoonotic Spike Variants  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e525.
Background
In 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was identified as the etiological agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome, a disease characterized by severe pneumonia that sometimes results in death. SARS-CoV is a zoonotic virus that crossed the species barrier, most likely originating from bats or from other species including civets, raccoon dogs, domestic cats, swine, and rodents. A SARS-CoV vaccine should confer long-term protection, especially in vulnerable senescent populations, against both the 2003 epidemic strains and zoonotic strains that may yet emerge from animal reservoirs. We report the comprehensive investigation of SARS vaccine efficacy in young and senescent mice following homologous and heterologous challenge.
Methods and Findings
Using Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRP) expressing the 2003 epidemic Urbani SARS-CoV strain spike (S) glycoprotein (VRP-S) or the nucleocapsid (N) protein from the same strain (VRP-N), we demonstrate that VRP-S, but not VRP-N vaccines provide complete short- and long-term protection against homologous strain challenge in young and senescent mice. To test VRP vaccine efficacy against a heterologous SARS-CoV, we used phylogenetic analyses, synthetic biology, and reverse genetics to construct a chimeric virus (icGDO3-S) encoding a synthetic S glycoprotein gene of the most genetically divergent human strain, GDO3, which clusters among the zoonotic SARS-CoV. icGD03-S replicated efficiently in human airway epithelial cells and in the lungs of young and senescent mice, and was highly resistant to neutralization with antisera directed against the Urbani strain. Although VRP-S vaccines provided complete short-term protection against heterologous icGD03-S challenge in young mice, only limited protection was seen in vaccinated senescent animals. VRP-N vaccines not only failed to protect from homologous or heterologous challenge, but resulted in enhanced immunopathology with eosinophilic infiltrates within the lungs of SARS-CoV–challenged mice. VRP-N–induced pathology presented at day 4, peaked around day 7, and persisted through day 14, and was likely mediated by cellular immune responses.
Conclusions
This study identifies gaps and challenges in vaccine design for controlling future SARS-CoV zoonosis, especially in vulnerable elderly populations. The availability of a SARS-CoV virus bearing heterologous S glycoproteins provides a robust challenge inoculum for evaluating vaccine efficacy against zoonotic strains, the most likely source of future outbreaks.
Experiments in mice suggest challenges in vaccine design for controlling future SARS-CoV zoonosis, especially in vulnerable elderly populations.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a flu-like illness and was first recognized in China in 2002, after which the disease rapidly spread around the world. SARS was associated with high death rates, much higher than those for flu. Around 10% of people recognized as being infected with SARS died, and the death rate approached 50% among elderly people. The virus causing SARS was identified as a member of the coronavirus family; it is generally thought that this virus “jumped” to humans from bats, which harbor related viruses. Although SARS was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in May 2005, there is still the possibility that similar viruses will again cross the species barrier and infect humans, with potentially serious consequences. As a result, many groups are working to develop vaccines that will protect against SARS infection.
Why Was This Study Done?
A SARS vaccine should be effective in people of all ages, including the elderly who are more likely to get seriously ill or die if they become infected. In addition, potential vaccines should protect against different variants of the virus, because there are different types of the virus that could potentially cross the species barrier from animals to humans. Of the different proteins that make up the SARS coronavirus, the spike glycoprotein is thought to elicit an immune response in humans that can protect against future infection. The researchers therefore examined vaccine candidates based on this particular protein (termed SARS-CoV S), as well as a second one called SARS-CoV N, in mice. Specifically, they tested whether the vaccines would protect against SARS infection in both young and older mice, and whether they would protect against infection by different strains of the SARS virus.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers created vaccines based on SARS-CoV S and SARS-CoV N by taking the genes coding for those proteins and inserting them into another type of virus particle that acted as a delivery vehicle. They injected mice with these vaccines and then tested whether the mice generated an immune response against the specific SARS proteins, which they did. The next step was to work out whether mice injected with the vaccines would be protected against later infection with SARS-CoV. The researchers found that mice injected with vaccine based on SARS-CoV S were protected against later infection with a standard SARS-CoV strain, both in the short term (eight weeks after vaccination) and the long term (54 weeks after vaccination). However, the vaccine based on SARS-CoV N did not seem to result in protection, and, worryingly, caused pathological changes in the lungs of mice following virus challenge. To find out if their candidate vaccines would protect against different strains of SARS, the researchers made a synthetic test virus that contained a mixture of genetic material from different natural variants of the virus. This test virus was used to “challenge” mice that had been immunized with the two different vaccines. The researchers found that the vaccine based on SARS-CoV S protected against infection by the test virus when mice were vaccinated young, but it failed to efficiently protect when administered to older mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings confirm others suggesting that vaccines based on the SARS-CoV S protein are more effective than those based on SARS-CoV N. They also suggest that the former can provide long-term protection in animals vaccinated young against closely related viruses. However, protection against more distantly related viruses remains a challenge, especially when vaccinating older animals. The differences seen between young and older mice suggest that older mice might provide a useful model for animal testing of candidate vaccines for diseases like SARS, flu, and West Nile virus that pose a particular threat to elderly people. Overall, these results provide useful lessons toward future SARS vaccine development in animals. The synthetic virus strain generated here, and others like it, are likely to be useful tools for such future studies.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030525.
• The World Health Organization provides guidance, archives, and other information resources on SARS
• Information from the US Centers for Disease Control on SARS
• Wikipedia (an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit) has an entry on SARS
• Collected resources from MedLinePlus about SARS
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030525
PMCID: PMC1716185  PMID: 17194199
7.  Protection against lethal challenge by Ebola virus-like particles produced in insect cells 
Virology  2008;383(1):12-21.
Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs) were produced in insect cells using a recombinant baculovirus expression system and their efficacy for protection against Ebola virus infection was investigated. Two immunizations with 50 ug Ebola VLPs (high dose) induced a high level of antibodies against Ebola GP that exhibited strong neutralizing activity against GP-mediated virus infection and conferred complete protection of vaccinated mice against lethal challenge by a high dose of mouse-adapted Ebola virus. In contrast, two immunizations with 10 ug Ebola VLPs (low dose) induced 5-fold lower levels of antibodies against GP and these mice were not protected against lethal Ebola virus challenge, similar to control mice that were immunized with 50 ug SIV Gag VLPs. However, the antibody response against GP were boosted significantly after a third immunization with 10 ug Ebola VLPs to similar levels as those induced by two immunizations with 50 ug Ebola VLPs, and vaccinated mice were also effectively protected against lethal Ebola virus challenge. Furthermore, serum viremia levels in protected mice were either below the level of detection or significantly lower compared to the viremia levels in control mice. These results show that effective protection can be achieved by immunization with Ebola VLPs produced in insect cells, which give high production yields, and lend further support to their development as an effective vaccine strategy against Ebola virus.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2008.09.020
PMCID: PMC2657000  PMID: 18986663
8.  Ad35 and Ad26 Vaccine Vectors Induce Potent and Cross-Reactive Antibody and T-Cell Responses to Multiple Filovirus Species 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e44115.
Filoviruses cause sporadic but highly lethal outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever in Africa in the human population. Currently, no drug or vaccine is available for treatment or prevention. A previous study with a vaccine candidate based on the low seroprevalent adenoviruses 26 and 35 (Ad26 and Ad35) was shown to provide protection against homologous Ebola Zaire challenge in non human primates (NHP) if applied in a prime-boost regimen. Here we have aimed to expand this principle to construct and evaluate Ad26 and Ad35 vectors for development of a vaccine to provide universal filovirus protection against all highly lethal strains that have caused major outbreaks in the past. We have therefore performed a phylogenetic analysis of filovirus glycoproteins to select the glycoproteins from two Ebola species (Ebola Zaire and Ebola Sudan/Gulu,), two Marburg strains (Marburg Angola and Marburg Ravn) and added the more distant non-lethal Ebola Ivory Coast species for broadest coverage. Ad26 and Ad35 vectors expressing these five filovirus glycoproteins were evaluated to induce a potent cellular and humoral immune response in mice. All adenoviral vectors induced a humoral immune response after single vaccination in a dose dependent manner that was cross-reactive within the Ebola and Marburg lineages. In addition, both strain-specific as well as cross-reactive T cell responses could be detected. A heterologous Ad26–Ad35 prime-boost regime enhanced mainly the humoral and to a lower extend the cellular immune response against the transgene. Combination of the five selected filovirus glycoproteins in one multivalent vaccine potentially elicits protective immunity in man against all major filovirus strains that have caused lethal outbreaks in the last 20 years.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044115
PMCID: PMC3516506  PMID: 23236343
9.  Vesicular Stomatitis Virus-Based Ebola Vaccine Is Well-Tolerated and Protects Immunocompromised Nonhuman Primates 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(11):e1000225.
Ebola virus (EBOV) is a significant human pathogen that presents a public health concern as an emerging/re-emerging virus and as a potential biological weapon. Substantial progress has been made over the last decade in developing candidate preventive vaccines that can protect nonhuman primates against EBOV. Among these prospects, a vaccine based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is particularly robust, as it can also confer protection when administered as a postexposure treatment. A concern that has been raised regarding the replication-competent VSV vectors that express EBOV glycoproteins is how these vectors would be tolerated by individuals with altered or compromised immune systems such as patients infected with HIV. This is especially important as all EBOV outbreaks to date have occurred in areas of Central and Western Africa with high HIV incidence rates in the population. In order to address this concern, we evaluated the safety of the recombinant VSV vector expressing the Zaire ebolavirus glycoprotein (VSVΔG/ZEBOVGP) in six rhesus macaques infected with simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV). All six animals showed no evidence of illness associated with the VSVΔG/ZEBOVGP vaccine, suggesting that this vaccine may be safe in immunocompromised populations. While one goal of the study was to evaluate the safety of the candidate vaccine platform, it was also of interest to determine if altered immune status would affect vaccine efficacy. The vaccine protected 4 of 6 SHIV-infected macaques from death following ZEBOV challenge. Evaluation of CD4+ T cells in all animals showed that the animals that succumbed to lethal ZEBOV challenge had the lowest CD4+ counts, suggesting that CD4+ T cells may play a role in mediating protection against ZEBOV.
Author Summary
Ebola virus is among the most lethal microbes known to man, with case fatality rates often exceeding 80%. Since its discovery in 1976, outbreaks have been sporadic and geographically restricted, primarily to areas of Central Africa. However, concern about the natural or unnatural introduction of Ebola outside of the endemic areas has dramatically increased both research interest and public awareness. A number of candidate vaccines have been developed to combat Ebola virus, and these vaccines have shown varying degrees of success in nonhuman primate models. Safety is a significant concern for any vaccine and in particular for vaccines that replicate in the host. Here, we evaluated the safety of our replication-competent vesicular stomatitus virus (VSV)-based Ebola vaccine in SHIV-infected rhesus monkeys. We found that the vaccine caused no evidence of overt illness in any of these immunocompromised animals. We also demonstrated that this vaccine partially protected the SHIV-infected monkeys against a lethal Ebola challenge and that there appears to be an association with levels of CD4+ lymphocytes and survival. Our study suggests that the VSV-based Ebola vaccine will be safe in immunocompromised populations and supports further study and development of this promising vaccine platform for its use in humans.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000225
PMCID: PMC2582959  PMID: 19043556
10.  Effective Post-Exposure Treatment of Ebola Infection  
PLoS Pathogens  2007;3(1):e2.
Ebola viruses are highly lethal human pathogens that have received considerable attention in recent years due to an increasing re-emergence in Central Africa and a potential for use as a biological weapon. There is no vaccine or treatment licensed for human use. In the past, however, important advances have been made in developing preventive vaccines that are protective in animal models. In this regard, we showed that a single injection of a live-attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus vector expressing the Ebola virus glycoprotein completely protected rodents and nonhuman primates from lethal Ebola challenge. In contrast, progress in developing therapeutic interventions against Ebola virus infections has been much slower and there is clearly an urgent need to develop effective post-exposure strategies to respond to future outbreaks and acts of bioterrorism, as well as to treat laboratory exposures. Here we tested the efficacy of the vesicular stomatitis virus-based Ebola vaccine vector in post-exposure treatment in three relevant animal models. In the guinea pig and mouse models it was possible to protect 50% and 100% of the animals, respectively, following treatment as late as 24 h after lethal challenge. More important, four out of eight rhesus macaques were protected if treated 20 to 30 min following an otherwise uniformly lethal infection. Currently, this approach provides the most effective post-exposure treatment strategy for Ebola infections and is particularly suited for use in accidentally exposed individuals and in the control of secondary transmission during naturally occurring outbreaks or deliberate release.
Author Summary
Being highly pathogenic for humans and monkeys and the subject of former weapons programs makes Ebola virus one of the most feared pathogens worldwide today. Due to a lack of licensed pre- and post-exposure intervention, our current response depends on rapid diagnostics, proper isolation procedures, and supportive care of case patients. Consequently, the development of more specific countermeasures is of high priority for the preparedness of many nations. In this study, we investigated an attenuated vesicular stomatitis virus expressing the Ebola virus surface glycoprotein, which had previously demonstrated convincing efficacy as a vaccine against Ebola infections in rodents and monkeys, for its potential use in the treatment of an Ebola virus infection. Surprisingly, treatment of guinea pigs and mice as late as 24 h after lethal Ebola virus infection resulted in 50% and 100% survival, respectively. More important, 50% of rhesus macaques (4/8) were protected if treated 20 to 30 min after Ebola virus infection. Currently, this approach provides the most effective treatment strategy for Ebola infections and seems particularly suited for the use in accidental exposures and the control of human-to-human transmission during outbreaks.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0030002
PMCID: PMC1779298  PMID: 17238284
11.  Enhanced Protection against Ebola Virus Mediated by an Improved Adenovirus-Based Vaccine 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5308.
Background
The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with bodily fluids of infected individuals, eliciting death rates as high as 90% among infected humans. Currently, replication defective adenovirus-based Ebola vaccine is being studied in a phase I clinical trial. Another Ebola vaccine, based on an attenuated vesicular stomatitis virus has shown efficacy in post-exposure treatment of nonhuman primates to Ebola infection. In this report, we modified the common recombinant adenovirus serotype 5-based Ebola vaccine expressing the wild-type ZEBOV glycoprotein sequence from a CMV promoter (Ad-CMVZGP). The immune response elicited by this improved expression cassette vector (Ad-CAGoptZGP) and its ability to afford protection against lethal ZEBOV challenge in mice was compared to the standard Ad-CMVZGP vector.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Ad-CMVZGP was previously shown to protect mice, guinea pigs and nonhuman primates from an otherwise lethal challenge of Zaire ebolavirus. The antigenic expression cassette of this vector was improved through codon optimization, inclusion of a consensus Kozak sequence and reconfiguration of a CAG promoter (Ad-CAGoptZGP). Expression of GP from Ad-CAGoptZGP was substantially higher than from Ad-CMVZGP. Ad-CAGoptZGP significantly improved T and B cell responses at doses 10 to 100-fold lower than that needed with Ad-CMVZGP. Additionally, Ad-CAGoptZGP afforded full protections in mice against lethal challenge at a dose 100 times lower than the dose required for Ad-CMVZGP. Finally, Ad-CAGoptZGP induced full protection to mice when given 30 minutes post-challenge.
Conclusions/Significance
We describe an improved adenovirus-based Ebola vaccine capable of affording post-exposure protection against lethal challenge in mice. The molecular modifications of the new improved vaccine also translated in the induction of significantly enhanced immune responses and complete protection at a dose 100 times lower than with the previous generation adenovirus-based Ebola vaccine. Understanding and improving the molecular components of adenovirus-based vaccines can produce potent, optimized product, useful for vaccination and post-exposure therapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005308
PMCID: PMC2669164  PMID: 19390586
12.  Demonstration of Cross-Protective Vaccine Immunity against an Emerging Pathogenic Ebolavirus Species 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(5):e1000904.
A major challenge in developing vaccines for emerging pathogens is their continued evolution and ability to escape human immunity. Therefore, an important goal of vaccine research is to advance vaccine candidates with sufficient breadth to respond to new outbreaks of previously undetected viruses. Ebolavirus (EBOV) vaccines have demonstrated protection against EBOV infection in nonhuman primates (NHP) and show promise in human clinical trials but immune protection occurs only with vaccines whose antigens are matched to the infectious challenge species. A 2007 hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Uganda demonstrated the existence of a new EBOV species, Bundibugyo (BEBOV), that differed from viruses covered by current vaccine candidates by up to 43% in genome sequence. To address the question of whether cross-protective immunity can be generated against this novel species, cynomolgus macaques were immunized with DNA/rAd5 vaccines expressing ZEBOV and SEBOV glycoprotein (GP) prior to lethal challenge with BEBOV. Vaccinated subjects developed robust, antigen-specific humoral and cellular immune responses against the GP from ZEBOV as well as cellular immunity against BEBOV GP, and immunized macaques were uniformly protected against lethal challenge with BEBOV. This report provides the first demonstration of vaccine-induced protective immunity against challenge with a heterologous EBOV species, and shows that Ebola vaccines capable of eliciting potent cellular immunity may provide the best strategy for eliciting cross-protection against newly emerging heterologous EBOV species.
Author Summary
Ebola virus causes death, fear, and economic disruption during outbreaks. It is a concern worldwide as a natural pathogen and a bioterrorism agent, and has caused death to residents and tourists of Africa where the virus circulates. A vaccine strategy to protect against all circulating Ebola viruses is complicated by the fact that there are five different virus species, and individual vaccines provide protection only against those included in the vaccine. Making broad vaccines that contain multiple components is complicated, expensive, and poses challenges for regulatory approval. Therefore, in the present work, we examined whether a prime-boost immunization strategy with a vaccine targeted to one Ebola virus species could cross protect against a different species. We found that genetic immunization with vectors expressing the Ebola virus glycoprotein from Zaire blocked infection with a newly emerged virus species, Bundibugyo EBOV, not represented in the vaccine. Protection occurred in the absence of antibodies against the second species and was mediated instead by cellular immune responses. Therefore, single-component vaccines may be improved to protect against multiple Ebola viruses if they are designed to generate this type of immunity.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000904
PMCID: PMC2873919  PMID: 20502688
13.  Studies of Ebola Virus Glycoprotein-Mediated Entry and Fusion by Using Pseudotyped Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Virions: Involvement of Cytoskeletal Proteins and Enhancement by Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(2):918-926.
The Ebola filoviruses are aggressive pathogens that cause severe and often lethal hemorrhagic fever syndromes in humans and nonhuman primates. To date, no effective therapies have been identified. To analyze the entry and fusion properties of Ebola virus, we adapted a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) virion-based fusion assay by substituting Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP) for the HIV-1 envelope. Fusion was detected by cleavage of the fluorogenic substrate CCF2 by β-lactamase-Vpr incorporated into virions and released as a result of virion fusion. Entry and fusion induced by the Ebola virus GP occurred with much slower kinetics than with vesicular stomatitis virus G protein (VSV-G) and were blocked by depletion of membrane cholesterol and by inhibition of vesicular acidification with bafilomycin A1. These properties confirmed earlier studies and validated the assay for exploring other properties of Ebola virus GP-mediated entry and fusion. Entry and fusion of Ebola virus GP pseudotypes, but not VSV-G or HIV-1 Env pseudotypes, were impaired in the presence of the microtubule-disrupting agent nocodazole but were enhanced in the presence of the microtubule-stabilizing agent paclitaxel (Taxol). Agents that impaired microfilament function, including cytochalasin B, cytochalasin D, latrunculin A, and jasplakinolide, also inhibited Ebola virus GP-mediated entry and fusion. Together, these findings suggest that both microtubules and microfilaments may play a role in the effective trafficking of vesicles containing Ebola virions from the cell surface to the appropriate acidified vesicular compartment where fusion occurs. In terms of Ebola virus GP-mediated entry and fusion to various target cells, primary macrophages proved highly sensitive, while monocytes from the same donors displayed greatly reduced levels of entry and fusion. We further observed that tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is released by Ebola virus-infected monocytes/macrophages, enhanced Ebola virus GP-mediated entry and fusion to human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Thus, Ebola virus infection of one target cell may induce biological changes that facilitate infection of secondary target cells that play a key role in filovirus pathogenesis. Finally, these studies indicate that pseudotyping in the HIV-1 virion-based fusion assay may be a valuable approach to the study of entry and fusion properties mediated through the envelopes of other viral pathogens.
doi:10.1128/JVI.79.2.918-926.2005
PMCID: PMC538559  PMID: 15613320
14.  Passive Transfer of Antibodies Protects Immunocompetent and Immunodeficient Mice against Lethal Ebola Virus Infection without Complete Inhibition of Viral Replication 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(10):4649-4654.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, usually fatal illness caused by Ebola virus, a member of the filovirus family. The use of nonhomologous immune serum in animal studies and blood from survivors in two anecdotal reports of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in humans has shown promise, but the efficacy of these treatments has not been demonstrated definitively. We have evaluated the protective efficacy of polyclonal immune serum in a mouse model of Ebola virus infection. Our results demonstrate that mice infected subcutaneously with live Ebola virus survive infection and generate high levels of anti-Ebola virus immunoglobulin G (IgG). Passive transfer of immune serum from these mice before challenge protected upto 100% of naive mice against lethal Ebola virus infection. Protection correlated with the level of anti-Ebola virus IgG titers, and passive treatment with high-titer antiserum was associated with a delay in the peak of viral replication. Transfer of immune serum to SCID mice resulted in 100% survival after lethal challenge with Ebola virus, indicating that antibodies alone can protect from lethal disease. Thus antibodies suppress or delay viral growth, provide protection against lethal Ebola virus infection, and may not require participation of other immune components for protection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.75.10.4649-4654.2001
PMCID: PMC114218  PMID: 11312335
15.  Replication-Deficient Ebolavirus as a Vaccine Candidate▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(8):3810-3815.
Ebolavirus causes severe hemorrhagic fever, with case fatality rates as high as 90%. Currently, no licensed vaccine is available against Ebolavirus. We previously generated a replication-deficient, biologically contained Ebolavirus, EbolaΔVP30, which lacks the essential VP30 gene, grows only in cells stably expressing this gene product, and is genetically stable. Here, we evaluated the vaccine potential of EbolaΔVP30. First, we demonstrated its safety in STAT-1-knockout mice, a susceptible animal model for Ebolavirus infection. We then tested its protective efficacy in two animal models, mice and guinea pigs. Mice immunized twice with EbolaΔVP30 were protected from a lethal infection of mouse-adapted Ebolavirus. Virus titers in the serum of vaccinated mice were significantly lower than those in nonvaccinated mice. Protection of mice immunized with EbolaΔVP30 was associated with a high antibody response to the Ebolavirus glycoprotein and the generation of an Ebolavirus NP-specific CD8+ T-cell response. Guinea pigs immunized twice with EbolaΔVP30 were also protected from a lethal infection of guinea pig-adapted Ebolavirus. Our study demonstrates the potential of the EbolaΔVP30 virus as a new vaccine platform.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00074-09
PMCID: PMC2663241  PMID: 19211761
16.  Successful Topical Respiratory Tract Immunization of Primates against Ebola Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(12):6379-6388.
Ebola virus causes outbreaks of severe viral hemorrhagic fever with high mortality in humans. The virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted by contact and by the aerosol route. These features make Ebola virus a potential weapon for bioterrorism and biological warfare. Therefore, a vaccine that induces both systemic and local immune responses in the respiratory tract would be highly beneficial. We evaluated a common pediatric respiratory pathogen, human parainfluenza virus type 3 (HPIV3), as a vaccine vector against Ebola virus. HPIV3 recombinants expressing the Ebola virus (Zaire species) surface glycoprotein (GP) alone or in combination with the nucleocapsid protein NP or with the cytokine adjuvant granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor were administered by the respiratory route to rhesus monkeys—in which HPIV3 infection is mild and asymptomatic—and were evaluated for immunogenicity and protective efficacy against a highly lethal intraperitoneal challenge with Ebola virus. A single immunization with any construct expressing GP was moderately immunogenic against Ebola virus and protected 88% of the animals against severe hemorrhagic fever and death caused by Ebola virus. Two doses were highly immunogenic, and all of the animals survived challenge and were free of signs of disease and of detectable Ebola virus challenge virus. These data illustrate the feasibility of immunization via the respiratory tract against the hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola virus. To our knowledge, this is the first study in which topical immunization through respiratory tract achieved prevention of a viral hemorrhagic fever infection in a primate model.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00105-07
PMCID: PMC1900097  PMID: 17428868
17.  Advances in Virus-Like Particle Vaccines for Filoviruses 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(Suppl 3):S1053-S1059.
Ebola virus (EBOV) and Marburg virus (MARV) are among the deadliest human pathogens, with no vaccines or therapeutics available. Multiple vaccine platforms have been tested for efficacy as prophylactic pretreatments or therapeutics for prevention of filovirus hemorrhagic fever. Most successful vaccines are based on a virus-vectored approach expressing the protective glycoprotein (GP); protein-based subunit and DNA vaccines have been tested with moderate success. Virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines have realized promising results when tested in both rodents and nonhuman primates. VLPs rely on the natural properties of the viral matrix protein (VP) 40 to drive budding of filamentous particles that can also incorporate ≥1 other filovirus protein, including GP, VP24, and nucleoprotein (NP). Filovirus VLP vaccines have used particles containing 2 or 3 (GP and VP40, with or without NP) viral proteins generated in either mammalian or insect cells. Early studies successfully demonstrated efficacy of bivalent VLP vaccines in rodents; more recent studies have shown the ability of the VLP vaccines containing GP, NP, and VP40 to confer complete homologous protection against Ebola virus and Marburg virus in a prophylactic setting against in macaques. This review will discuss published work to date regarding development of the VLP vaccines for prevention of lethal filovirus hemorrhagic fever.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jir346
PMCID: PMC3189993  PMID: 21987741
18.  Evasion of the Interferon-Mediated Antiviral Response by Filoviruses 
Viruses  2010;2(1):262-282.
The members of the filoviruses are recognized as some of the most lethal viruses affecting human and non-human primates. The only two genera of the Filoviridae family, Marburg virus (MARV) and Ebola virus (EBOV), comprise the main etiologic agents of severe hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in central Africa, with case fatality rates ranging from 25 to 90%. Fatal outcomes have been associated with a late and dysregulated immune response to infection, very likely due to the virus targeting key host immune cells, such as macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) that are necessary to mediate effective innate and adaptive immune responses. Despite major progress in the development of vaccine candidates for filovirus infections, a licensed vaccine or therapy for human use is still not available. During the last ten years, important progress has been made in understanding the molecular mechanisms of filovirus pathogenesis. Several lines of evidence implicate the impairment of the host interferon (IFN) antiviral innate immune response by MARV or EBOV as an important determinant of virulence. In vitro and in vivo experimental infections with recombinant Zaire Ebola virus (ZEBOV), the best characterized filovirus, demonstrated that the viral protein VP35 plays a key role in inhibiting the production of IFN-α/β. Further, the action of VP35 is synergized by the inhibition of cellular responses to IFN-α/β by the minor matrix viral protein VP24. The dual action of these viral proteins may contribute to an efficient initial virus replication and dissemination in the host. Noticeably, the analogous function of these viral proteins in MARV has not been reported. Because the IFN response is a major component of the innate immune response to virus infection, this chapter reviews recent findings on the molecular mechanisms of IFN-mediated antiviral evasion by filovirus infection.
doi:10.3390/v2010262
PMCID: PMC3185555  PMID: 21994610
IFN; VP35; VP24; filovirus
19.  Durability of a Vesicular Stomatitis Virus-Based Marburg Virus Vaccine in Nonhuman Primates 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94355.
The filoviruses, Marburg virus (MARV) and Ebola virus, causes severe hemorrhagic fever with high mortality in humans and nonhuman primates. A promising filovirus vaccine under development is based on a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) that expresses individual filovirus glycoproteins (GPs) in place of the VSV glycoprotein (G). These vaccines have shown 100% efficacy against filovirus infection in nonhuman primates when challenge occurs 28–35 days after a single injection immunization. Here, we examined the ability of a rVSV MARV-GP vaccine to provide protection when challenge occurs more than a year after vaccination. Cynomolgus macaques were immunized with rVSV-MARV-GP and challenged with MARV approximately 14 months after vaccination. Immunization resulted in the vaccine cohort of six animals having anti-MARV GP IgG throughout the pre-challenge period. Following MARV challenge none of the vaccinated animals showed any signs of clinical disease or viremia and all were completely protected from MARV infection. Two unvaccinated control animals exhibited signs consistent with MARV infection and both succumbed. Importantly, these data are the first to show 100% protective efficacy against any high dose filovirus challenge beyond 8 weeks after final vaccination. These findings demonstrate the durability of VSV-based filovirus vaccines.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094355
PMCID: PMC3997383  PMID: 24759889
20.  Single-Injection Vaccine Protects Nonhuman Primates against Infection with Marburg Virus and Three Species of Ebola Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(14):7296-7304.
The filoviruses Marburg virus and Ebola virus cause severe hemorrhagic fever with high mortality in humans and nonhuman primates. Among the most promising filovirus vaccines under development is a system based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) that expresses a single filovirus glycoprotein (GP) in place of the VSV glycoprotein (G). Here, we performed a proof-of-concept study in order to determine the potential of having one single-injection vaccine capable of protecting nonhuman primates against Sudan ebolavirus (SEBOV), Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV), Cote d'Ivoire ebolavirus (CIEBOV), and Marburgvirus (MARV). In this study, 11 cynomolgus monkeys were vaccinated with a blended vaccine consisting of equal parts of the vaccine vectors VSVΔG/SEBOVGP, VSVΔG/ZEBOVGP, and VSVΔG/MARVGP. Four weeks later, three of these animals were challenged with MARV, three with CIEBOV, three with ZEBOV, and two with SEBOV. Three control animals were vaccinated with VSV vectors encoding a nonfilovirus GP and challenged with SEBOV, ZEBOV, and MARV, respectively, and five unvaccinated control animals were challenged with CIEBOV. Importantly, none of the macaques vaccinated with the blended vaccine succumbed to a filovirus challenge. As expected, an experimental control animal vaccinated with VSVΔG/ZEBOVGP and challenged with SEBOV succumbed, as did the positive controls challenged with SEBOV, ZEBOV, and MARV, respectively. All five control animals challenged with CIEBOV became severely ill, and three of the animals succumbed on days 12, 12, and 14, respectively. The two animals that survived CIEBOV infection were protected from subsequent challenge with either SEBOV or ZEBOV, suggesting that immunity to CIEBOV may be protective against other species of Ebola virus. In conclusion, we developed an immunization scheme based on a single-injection vaccine that protects nonhuman primates against lethal challenge with representative strains of all human pathogenic filovirus species.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00561-09
PMCID: PMC2704787  PMID: 19386702
21.  Nasal Delivery of an Adenovirus-Based Vaccine Bypasses Pre-Existing Immunity to the Vaccine Carrier and Improves the Immune Response in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3548.
Pre-existing immunity to human adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) is common in the general population. Bypassing pre-existing immunity could maximize Ad5 vaccine efficacy. Vaccination by the intramuscular (I.M.), nasal (I.N.) or oral (P.O.) route with Ad5 expressing Ebola Zaire glycoprotein (Ad5-ZGP) fully protected naïve mice against lethal challenge with Ebola. In the presence of pre-existing immunity, only mice vaccinated I.N. survived. The frequency of IFN-γ+ CD8+ T cells was reduced by 80% and by 15% in animals vaccinated by the I.M. and P.O. routes respectively. Neutralizing antibodies could not be detected in serum from either treatment group. Pre-existing immunity did not compromise the frequency of IFN-γ+ CD8+ T cells (3.9±1% naïve vs. 3.6±1% pre-existing immunity, PEI) nor anti-Ebola neutralizing antibody (NAB, 40±10 reciprocal dilution, both groups). The number of INF-γ+ CD8+ cells detected in bronchioalveolar lavage fluid (BAL) after I.N. immunization was not compromised by pre-existing immunity to Ad5 (146±14, naïve vs. 120±16 SFC/million MNCs, PEI). However, pre-existing immunity reduced NAB levels in BAL by ∼25% in this group. To improve the immune response after oral vaccination, the Ad5-based vaccine was PEGylated. Mice given the modified vaccine did not survive challenge and had reduced levels of IFN-γ+ CD8+ T cells 10 days after administration (0.3±0.3% PEG vs. 1.7±0.5% unmodified). PEGylation did increase NAB levels 2-fold. These results provide some insight about the degree of T and B cell mediated immunity necessary for protection against Ebola virus and suggest that modification of the virus capsid can influence the type of immune response elicited by an Ad5-based vaccine.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003548
PMCID: PMC2569416  PMID: 18958172
22.  Antibody Quality and Protection from Lethal Ebola Virus Challenge in Nonhuman Primates Immunized with Rabies Virus Based Bivalent Vaccine 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(5):e1003389.
We have previously described the generation of a novel Ebola virus (EBOV) vaccine platform based on (a) replication-competent rabies virus (RABV), (b) replication-deficient RABV, or (c) chemically inactivated RABV expressing EBOV glycoprotein (GP). Mouse studies demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy of these live or inactivated RABV/EBOV vaccines. Here, we evaluated these vaccines in nonhuman primates. Our results indicate that all three vaccines do induce potent immune responses against both RABV and EBOV, while the protection of immunized animals against EBOV was largely dependent on the quality of humoral immune response against EBOV GP. We also determined if the induced antibodies against EBOV GP differ in their target, affinity, or the isotype. Our results show that IgG1-biased humoral responses as well as high levels of GP-specific antibodies were beneficial for the control of EBOV infection after immunization. These results further support the concept that a successful EBOV vaccine needs to induce strong antibodies against EBOV. We also showed that a dual vaccine against RABV and filoviruses is achievable; therefore addressing concerns for the marketability of this urgently needed vaccine.
Author Summary
Ebola virus (EBOV) has been associated with outbreaks in human and nonhuman primate populations since 1976. With a fatality rate approaching 90%, EBOV is one of the most lethal infectious diseases in humans. The increased frequency of EBOV outbreaks along with its potential to be used as a bioterrorism agent has dramatically strengthened filovirus vaccine research and development. While there are currently no approved vaccines or post exposure treatments available for human use, several vaccine candidates have shown to protect nonhuman primates from lethal EBOV challenge. Our primary focus is to develop vaccine candidates to protect humans and endangered wildlife species at risk of infection in Africa. Here, we evaluated the efficacy and immunogenicity of our dual vaccines against EBOV and rabies virus (RABV) in rhesus macaques. Our live replication-competent vaccine provided 100% protection following EBOV challenge while the replication-deficient and inactivated candidates provided 50% protection. Interestingly, protection is dependent on the quality of the antibodies rather than the quantity. All three RABV-based EBOV vaccines did induce antibody levels necessary for protection from RABV infection. These results encourage the further development of these novel dual vaccines directed against two of the most lethal viral diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003389
PMCID: PMC3667758  PMID: 23737747
23.  Vesicular Stomatitis Virus-Based Vaccines Protect Nonhuman Primates against Bundibugyo ebolavirus 
Ebola virus (EBOV) causes severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates (NHPs). Currently, there are no licensed vaccines or therapeutics for human use. Recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)-based vaccine vectors, which encode an EBOV glycoprotein in place of the VSV glycoprotein, have shown 100% efficacy against homologous Sudan ebolavirus (SEBOV) or Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) challenge in NHPs. In addition, a single injection of a blend of three rVSV vectors completely protected NHPs against challenge with SEBOV, ZEBOV, the former Côte d'Ivoire ebolavirus, and Marburg virus. However, recent studies suggest that complete protection against the newly discovered Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BEBOV) using several different heterologous filovirus vaccines is more difficult and presents a new challenge. As BEBOV caused nearly 50% mortality in a recent outbreak any filovirus vaccine advanced for human use must be able to protect against this new species. Here, we evaluated several different strategies against BEBOV using rVSV-based vaccines. Groups of cynomolgus macaques were vaccinated with a single injection of a homologous BEBOV vaccine, a single injection of a blended heterologous vaccine (SEBOV/ZEBOV), or a prime-boost using heterologous SEBOV and ZEBOV vectors. Animals were challenged with BEBOV 29–36 days after initial vaccination. Macaques vaccinated with the homologous BEBOV vaccine or the prime-boost showed no overt signs of illness and survived challenge. In contrast, animals vaccinated with the heterologous blended vaccine and unvaccinated control animals developed severe clinical symptoms consistent with BEBOV infection with 2 of 3 animals in each group succumbing. These data show that complete protection against BEBOV will likely require incorporation of BEBOV glycoprotein into the vaccine or employment of a prime-boost regimen. Fortunately, our results demonstrate that heterologous rVSV-based filovirus vaccine vectors employed in the prime-boost approach can provide protection against BEBOV using an abbreviated regimen, which may have utility in outbreak settings.
Author Summary
Ebola viruses (EBOV), of which there are five species, are categorized as Category A Priority Pathogens and Tier 1 Select Agents by several US Government agencies as a result of their high mortality rates and potential for use as agents of bioterrorism. Currently, there are no vaccines or therapeutics approved for human use. Replication-competent, recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vectors expressing filovirus glycoproteins (GP), in place of the VSV glycoprotein have shown promise in lethal nonhuman primate (NHP) models of filovirus infection as both single injection preventive vaccines and as post-exposure treatments. The recent outbreak of the fifth recognized EBOV species, Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BEBOV), demonstrates the need for vaccines that can be rapidly deployed to combat an outbreak of a new filovirus species. To date, rVSV-filovirus GP-based vaccines have only been able to protect against challenge with a homologous species of EBOV. Here, we show that the two heterologous rVSV-based filovirus vaccines available at the time of the original BEBOV outbreak can protect NHPs against BEBOV challenge using a short prime-boost vaccination strategy. While the prime-boost strategy was successful, a single injection blended vaccination strategy with the same vaccine vectors failed to provide protection. These data suggest that an abbreviated prime-boost regimen of 36 days may have utility for quickly responding to outbreaks caused by new species of EBOV.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002600
PMCID: PMC3868506  PMID: 24367715
24.  Ebola GP-Specific Monoclonal Antibodies Protect Mice and Guinea Pigs from Lethal Ebola Virus Infection 
Ebola virus (EBOV) causes acute hemorrhagic fever in humans and non-human primates with mortality rates up to 90%. So far there are no effective treatments available. This study evaluates the protective efficacy of 8 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against Ebola glycoprotein in mice and guinea pigs. Immunocompetent mice or guinea pigs were given MAbs i.p. in various doses individually or as pools of 3–4 MAbs to test their protection against a lethal challenge with mouse- or guinea pig-adapted EBOV. Each of the 8 MAbs (100 µg) protected mice from a lethal EBOV challenge when administered 1 day before or after challenge. Seven MAbs were effective 2 days post-infection (dpi), with 1 MAb demonstrating partial protection 3 dpi. In the guinea pigs each MAb showed partial protection at 1 dpi, however the mean time to death was significantly prolonged compared to the control group. Moreover, treatment with pools of 3–4 MAbs completely protected the majority of animals, while administration at 2–3 dpi achieved 50–100% protection. This data suggests that the MAbs generated are capable of protecting both animal species against lethal Ebola virus challenge. These results indicate that MAbs particularly when used as an oligoclonal set are a potential therapeutic for post-exposure treatment of EBOV infection.
Author Summary
Ebola virus (EBOV) causes acute hemorrhagic fever in humans and non-human primates with mortality rates up to 90%. So far there are no effective treatments available. This study evaluates the protective efficacy of 8 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against the Ebola virus surface glycoprotein, in mice and guinea pigs. Various combinations and doses of the neutralizing and non-neutralizing MAbs were tested, and a post-exposure treatment protocol was determined. There was 100% survival when guinea pigs received a mix of 3 neutralizing MAbs two days after a challenge with 1,000 LD50 of guinea pig-adapted EBOV. This data suggests that the MAbs generated are effective as a post-exposure therapeutic for a lethal Ebola virus infection. Development of a post-exposure therapeutic for an Ebola virus infection is vital due to the high lethality of the disease, the relative speed in which it kills, and the fact that no vaccine has been approved for human use. Additionally, is it unlikely that preventative vaccines will be employed, because Ebola virus infections occur primarily in Africa, and to date have only killed approximately 2,300 people making it financially unfeasible for a mass vaccination. Therefore, having an effective therapy in the event of an outbreak would be extremely beneficial.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001575
PMCID: PMC3308939  PMID: 22448295
25.  Evaluation in Nonhuman Primates of Vaccines against Ebola Virus 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(5):503-507.
Ebola virus (EBOV) causes acute hemorrhagic fever that is fatal in up to 90% of cases in both humans and nonhuman primates. No vaccines or treatments are available for human use. We evaluated the effects in nonhuman primates of vaccine strategies that had protected mice or guinea pigs from lethal EBOV infection. The following immunogens were used: RNA replicon particles derived from an attenuated strain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) expressing EBOV glycoprotein and nucleoprotein; recombinant Vaccinia virus expressing EBOV glycoprotein; liposomes containing lipid A and inactivated EBOV; and a concentrated, inactivated whole-virion preparation. None of these strategies successfully protected nonhuman primates from robust challenge with EBOV. The disease observed in primates differed from that in rodents, suggesting that rodent models of EBOV may not predict the efficacy of candidate vaccines in primates and that protection of primates may require different mechanisms.
doi:10.3201/eid0805.010284
PMCID: PMC3369765  PMID: 11996686
Keywords: Ebola; macaque; vaccine; Vaccinia virus; replicon

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