Development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine



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The SARS-CoV-2 “spike” (S) protein contains the receptor-binding domain (RBD), a critical subunit that enables the virus to attach to cell surface receptors. Because the SARS-CoV-2 S protein is conserved across epitopes, it is a major target for vaccine development. The goal of this project was to develop a vaccine conjugate that consisted of the carrier protein CRM197 (cross reactive material 197) linked to RBD. It also was combined with the adjuvant dmLT (LT-R192G/L211A), which is composed of bacterially derived enterotoxins including Escherichia coli and cholera toxin and mutants/subunits. In this study, we first confirmed protein conjugation of carrier protein (CRM197) to SARS-CoV-2 RBD protein by Western blot. We then assessed the immunogenicity of various concentrations (1-20µg) of the CRM-RBD conjugate + dmLT vaccine formulation in female BALB/c mice. Serum samples were assayed to measure the ability of the CRM-RBD conjugate vaccine to generate anti-SARS-CoV-2 RBD IgG antibodies. Generating an effective COVID-19 vaccine against RBD could significantly impact the morbidity and mortality associated with new variants of SARS-CoV-2.