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May 13, 2022

NIAID-developed vaccine for mosquito-borne viruses found safe in Phase I trial

The VLP vaccine candidate uses proteins from the outer shells of the EEE, WEE and VEE viruses to elicit an immune response.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reported findings from a Phase I clinical trial where the vaccine candidate, WEVEE, for rare, deadly mosquito-borne viruses was demonstrated to be safe and well-tolerated in adult subjects.

The vaccine is intended for mosquito-borne viruses: eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV).

Researchers at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the NIH unit National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) developed the vaccine.

The new WEVEE vaccine builds on the successful development of the chikungunya vaccine.

VRC scientists created the virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine candidate that utilises the proteins from the outer shells of the EEE, WEE and VEE viruses to elicit an immune response. 

VLPs do not have the genetic material required by the viruses for replication inside cells and do not cause infection.

Sponsored and funded by NIAID, the trial was carried out at the Emory Vaccine Center’s Hope Clinic, which is part of Emory University in Atlanta, US. 

The trial enrolled 30 healthy adult subjects aged 18-50 years, who were given varying intramuscular doses of the WEVEE vaccine. 

Some volunteers were also given a formulation of the vaccine that comprised an alum adjuvant to boost immune responses.

After eight weeks, the subjects also received the same dose of the vaccine as a boost. 

According to the trial data, the vaccine elicited long-lasting immune responses against all three viruses. 

Subjects who received the 30µg dose of the vaccine plus adjuvant demonstrated the highest neutralising antibody response.

In a press statement, NIH said: “NIAID has executed a commercialisation licence for the advanced development of the WEVEE vaccine candidate to the life sciences company Emergent BioSolutions in Gaithersburg, Maryland.”

EEEV, WEEV and VEEV are transmitted to humans by the bites of infected mosquitoes. 

The latest development comes after NIAID initiated a Phase I clinical trial of an investigational vaccine for the prevention of Epstein-Barr virus infection

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