2021

 

Krienke C, Kolb L, Diken E, Streuber M, Kirchhoff S, Bukur T, Akilli-Öztürk Ö, Kranz LM, Berger H, Petschenka J, Diken M, Kreiter S, Yogev N, Waisman A, Karikó K, Türeci Ö, Sahin U. (2021) A noninflammatory mRNA vaccine for treatment of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Science. 371(6525):145-153.

DOI, PMID

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The ability to control autoreactive T cells without inducing systemic immune suppression is the major goal for treatment of autoimmune diseases. The key challenge is the safe and efficient delivery of pharmaceutically well-defined antigens in a noninflammatory context. Here, we show that systemic delivery of nanoparticle-formulated 1 methylpseudouridine-modified messenger RNA (m1Ψ mRNA) coding for disease-related autoantigens results in antigen presentation on splenic CD11c+ antigen-presenting cells in the absence of costimulatory signals. In several mouse models of multiple sclerosis, the disease is suppressed by treatment with such m1Ψ mRNA. The treatment effect is associated with a reduction of effector T cells and the development of regulatory T cell (Treg cell) populations. Notably, these Treg cells execute strong bystander immunosuppression and thus improve disease induced by cognate and noncognate autoantigens.

Vogel AB, Kanevsky I, Che Y, et al. (2021) Immunogenic BNT162b vaccines protect rhesus macaques from SARS-CoV-2. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03275-y.

DOI, PMID

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A safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 is urgently needed in quantities sufficient to immunise large populations. We report the preclinical development of two BNT162b vaccine candidates, which contain lipid-nanoparticle (LNP) formulated nucleoside-modified mRNA encoding SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein-derived immunogens. BNT162b1 encodes a soluble, secreted, trimerised receptor-binding domain (RBD-foldon). BNT162b2 encodes the full-length transmembrane spike glycoprotein, locked in its prefusion conformation (P2 S). The flexibly tethered RBDs of the RBD-foldon bind ACE2 with high avidity. Approximately 20% of the P 2S trimers are in the two-RBD ‘down,’ one-RBD ‘up’ state. In mice, one intramuscular dose of either candidate elicits a dose-dependent antibody response with high virus-entry inhibition titres and strong TH1 CD4+ and IFNγ+ CD8+ T-cell responses. Prime/boost vaccination of rhesus macaques with BNT162b candidates elicits SARS-CoV-2 neutralising geometric mean titres 8.2 to 18.2 times that of a SARS-CoV-2 convalescent human serum panel. The vaccine candidates protect macaques from SARS-CoV-2 challenge, with BNT162b2 protecting the lower respiratory tract from the presence of viral RNA and with no evidence of disease enhancement. Both candidates are being evaluated in phase 1 trials in Germany and the United States1–3. BNT162b2 is being evaluated in an ongoing global, pivotal Phase 2/3 trial (NCT04380701, NCT04368728).

Miederer M, Pektor S, Miederer I , Bausbacher N, Keil IS, Hefesha H, Haas H, Sahin U, Diken M. (2021) Iodine-124 PET quantification of organ-specific delivery and expression of NIS-encoding RNA. EJNMMI Res 11, 14

DOI, PMID

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Background

RNA-based vaccination strategies tailoring immune response to specific reactions have become an important pillar for a broad range of applications. Recently, the use of lipid-based nanoparticles opened the possibility to deliver RNA to specific sites within the body, overcoming the limitation of rapid degradation in the bloodstream. Here, we have investigated whether small animal PET/MRI can be employed to image the biodistribution of RNA-encoded protein. For this purpose, a reporter RNA coding for the sodium-iodide-symporter (NIS) was in vitro transcribed in cell lines and evaluated for expression. RNA-lipoplex nanoparticles were then assembled by complexing RNA with liposomes at different charge ratios, and functional NIS protein translation was imaged and quantified in vivo and ex vivo by Iodine-124 PET upon intravenous administration in mice.

Results

NIS expression was detected on the membrane of two cell lines as early as 6 h after transfection and gradually decreased over 48 h. In vivo and ex vivo PET/MRI of anionic spleen-targeting or cationic lung-targeting NIS-RNA lipoplexes revealed a visually detectable rapid increase of Iodine-124 uptake in the spleen or lung compared to control-RNA-lipoplexes, respectively, with minimal background in other organs except from thyroid, stomach and salivary gland.

Conclusions

The strong organ selectivity and high target-to-background acquisition of NIS-RNA lipoplexes indicate the feasibility of small animal PET/MRI to quantify organ-specific delivery of RNA.