A human vaccine strategy based on chimpanzee adenoviral and MVA vectors that primes, boosts, and sustains functional HCV-specific T cell memory.
A protective vaccine against hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains an unmet clinical need. HCV infects millions of people worldwide and is a leading cause of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer. Animal challenge experiments, immunogenetics studies and assessment of host immunity during acute infection highlight the critical role that effective T-cell immunity plays in viral control. In this first-in-man study we have induced antiviral immunity with functional characteristics analogous to those associated with viral control in natural infection, and improved upon a vaccine based on adenoviral vectors alone. We assessed a heterologous prime-boost vaccination strategy based on a replicative defective simian adenoviral vector (ChAd3) and modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vector encoding the NS3, NS4, NS5A and NS5B proteins of HCV genotype-1b.
Analysis employed single cell mass cytometry (CyTOF), and HLA class-I peptide tetramer technology in healthy human volunteers. We show that HCV specific T-cells induced by ChAd3 are optimally boosted with MVA, and generate very high levels of both CD8+ and CD4+ HCV specific T-cells targeting multiple HCV antigens. Sustained memory and effector T-cell populations are generated and T-cell memory evolved over time with improvement of quality (proliferation and polyfunctionality) following heterologous MVA boost.
We have developed a HCV vaccine strategy, with durable, broad, sustained and balanced T-cell responses, characteristic of those associated with viral control, paving the way for the first efficacy studies of a prophylactic HCV vaccine.
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