Assessment of CD8+ T-cell mediated immunity in an influenza A(H3N2) human challenge model in Belgium: a single centre, randomised, double-blind phase 2 study

Our member, Cerba Research (formerly known as Viroclinics-DDL), has published a new study on influenza vaccine-induced immunity. In this study, they assessed CD8+ T-cell mediated immunity in individuals receiving the influenza vaccine during a phase 2 clinical trial. They discovered that the vaccine induced a ~3-fold increase in NP- and M1-specific T cell responses, as detected in the IFNg/GrZB ELISpot assays we performed. Flow cytometry on PBMC aliquots confirmed these responses involved both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells.

If you are interested in the findings or influenza research in general, check out the full article here.

Background

Protection afforded by inactivated influenza vaccines can theoretically be improved by inducing T-cell responses to conserved internal influenza A antigens. We assessed whether, in an influenza controlled human infection challenge, susceptible individuals receiving a vaccine boosting T-cell responses would exhibit lower viral load and decreased symptoms compared with placebo recipients.

Methods

In this single centre, randomised, double-blind phase 2 study, healthy adult (aged 18–55 years) volunteers with microneutralisation titres of less than 20 to the influenza A(H3N2) challenge strain were enrolled at an SGS quarantine facility in Antwerp, Belgium. Participants were randomly assigned double-blind using a permuted-block list with a 3:2 allocation ratio to receive 0·5 mL intramuscular injections of modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) expressing H3N2 nucleoprotein (NP) and matrix protein 1 (M1) at 1·5 × 108 plaque forming units (4·3 × 108 50% tissue culture infectious dose [TCID50]; MVA-NP+M1 group) or saline placebo (placebo group). At least 6 weeks later, participants were challenged intranasally with 0·5 mL of a 1 × 106 TCID50/mL dose of influenza A/Belgium/4217/2015 (H3N2). Nasal swabs were collected twice daily from day 2 until day 11 for viral PCR, and symptoms of influenza were recorded from day 2 until day 11. The primary outcome was to determine the efficacy of MVA-NP+M1 vaccine to reduce the degree of nasopharyngeal viral shedding as measured by the cumulative viral area under the curve using a log-transformed quantitative PCR. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03883113.

Findings

Between May 2 and Oct 24, 2019, 145 volunteers were enrolled and randomly assigned to the MVA-NP+M1 group (n=87) or the placebo group (n=58). Of these, 118 volunteers entered the challenge period (71 in the MVA-NP+M1 group and 47 in the placebo group) and 117 participants completed the study (71 in the MVA-NP+M1 group and 46 in the placebo group). 78 (54%) of the 145 volunteers were female and 67 (46%) were male. The primary outcome, overall viral load as determined by quantitative PCR, did not show a statistically significant difference between the MVA-NP+M1 (mean 649·7 [95% CI 552·7–746·7) and placebo groups (mean 726·1 [604·0–848·2]; p=0·17). All reported treatment emergent adverse events (TEAEs; 11 in the vaccination phase and 51 in the challenge phase) were grade 1 and 2, except for two grade 3 TEAEs in the placebo group in the challenge phase. A grade 4 second trimester fetal death, considered possibly related to the MVA-NP+M1 vaccination, and an acute psychosis reported in a placebo participant during the challenge phase were reported.

Interpretation

The use of an MVA vaccine to expand CD4+ or CD8+ T cells to conserved influenza A antigens in peripheral blood did not affect nasopharyngeal viral load in an influenza H3N2 challenge model in seronegative, healthy adults.

Funding

Department of Health and Human Services; Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority; and Barinthus Biotherapeutics.

 

Check out the full article here.