Safety, immunogenicity, and cross-species protection of a plasmid DNA encoding Plasmodium falciparum SERA5 polypeptide, microbial epitopes and chemokine genes in mice and olive baboons.
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Incorporation of biomolecular epitopes to malarial antigens should be explored in the development of strain-transcending malarial vaccines. The present study sought to determine safety, immunogenicity and cross-species efficacy ofPlasmodium falciparum serine repeat antigen 5 polypeptide co-expressed with epitopes of Bacille-Calmette Guerin (BCG), tetanus toxoid (TT) and a chemokine gene. Olive baboons and BALB/c mice were randomly assigned into vaccine and control groups. The vaccine group animals were primed and boosted twice with pIRES plasmids encoding the SERA5+ BCG+ TT alone, or with either CCL5 or CCL20 and the control group with pIRES plasmid vector backbone. Mice and baboons were challenged withP. berghei ANKA and P. knowlesi H strain parasites, respectively. Safety was determined by observing for injection sites reactogenicities, hematology and clinical chemistry. Parasitaemia and survivorship profiles were used to determine cross-species efficacy, and T cell phenotypes, Th1-, Th2-type, T-regulatory immune responses and antibody responses were assessed to determine vaccine immunogenicity. The pSeBCGTT plasmid DNA vaccines were safe and induced Th1-, Th2-type, and T-regulatory responses vaccinated animals showed enhanced CD4+ (P<0.01), CD 8+ T cells (P<0.001) activation and IgG anti-SE36 antibodies responses (P<0.001) at week 4 and 8 post vaccination compared to the control group. Vaccinated mice had a 31.45-68.69% cumulative parasite load reduction and 60% suppression in baboons (P<0.05) and enhanced survivorship (P<0.001) with no clinical signs of malaria compared to the control group. The results showed that the vaccines were safe, immunogenic and conferred partial cross-species protection.
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