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Research Project: Rift Valley Fever Pathogenesis and Epidemiology

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Title: Preliminary study on the efficacy of a recombinant, subunit SARS-CoV-2 animal vaccine against virulent SARS-CoV-2 challenge in cats

item MOROZOV, IGOR - Kansas State University
item GAUDREAULT, NATASHA - Kansas State University
item TRUJILLO, JESSE - Kansas State University
item INDRAN, SABARSIH - Kansas State University
item COOL, KONNER - Kansas State University
item KWON, TAEYONG - Kansas State University
item MEEKINS, DAVID - Kansas State University
item BALARAMAN, VELMURUGAN - Kansas State University
item ARTIAGA, BIANCA - Kansas State University
item MADDEN, DANIEL - Kansas State University
item MCDOWELL, CHESTER - Kansas State University
item NJAA, BRAD - Kansas State University
item RETALLICK, JAMIE - Kansas State University
item HAINER, NICOLE - Zoetis
item Wilson, William - Bill
item BURAKOVA, YULIA - Zoetis
item KING, VICKIE - Zoetis
item HARDHAM, JOHN - Zoetis
item SCHWAHN, DENISE - Zoetis
item KUMAR, MAHESH - Zoetis
item RICHT, JUERGEN - Kansas State University

Submitted to: Vaccines
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2023
Publication Date: 12/8/2023
Citation: Morozov, I., Gaudreault, N.N., Trujillo, J.D., Indran, S., Cool, K., Kwon, T., Meekins, D.A., Balaraman, V., Artiaga, B.L., Madden, D.W., McDowell, C.D., Njaa, B., Retallick, J., Hainer, N., Millership, J., Wilson, W.C., Tkalcevic, G.T., Vander Horst, H., Burakova, Y., King, V.L., Hutchinson, K., Hardham, J.M., Schwahn, D.J., Kumar, M., Richt, J.A. 2023. Preliminary study on the efficacy of a recombinant, subunit SARS-CoV-2 animal vaccine against virulent SARS-CoV-2 challenge in cats. Vaccines. 11(12). Article 1831.

Interpretive Summary: This study evaluated a next generation vaccine to protect cats from COVID-19. The vaccine requires two doses of a laboratory produced viral protein (spike protein) that produced an immune response. The results indicated that the candidate vaccine will be useful in protecting cats from infection with the causative virus (SARS-CoV2) that caused COVID-19 disease.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this work was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a recombinant, subunit SARS-CoV-2 animal vaccine in cats against virulent SARS-CoV-2 challenge. Two groups of cats were immunized with two doses of either a recombinant SARS-CoV-2 spike protein vaccine or a placebo, administered three weeks apart. Seven weeks after the second vaccination, both groups of cats were challenged with SARS-CoV-2 via the intranasal and oral routes simultaneously. Animals were monitored for 14 days post-infection for clinical signs and viral shedding before being humanely euthanized and evaluated for macroscopic and microscopic lesions. The recombinant subunit SARS-CoV-2 vaccine induced strong serologic responses post-vaccination and significantly increased neutralizing antibody response in vaccinates post-challenge. A significant difference in nasal and oral viral shedding, with significantly reduced virus load (detected using RT-qPCR) in vaccinates was observed as compared to mock-vaccinated controls. Duration of nasal, oral, and rectal viral shedding was also significantly reduced in vaccinates compared to controls. No differences in histopathological lesion scores were noted between groups. Our findings support safety and efficacy of the recombinant spike protein-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in inducing high levels of neutralizing antibodies and reducing nasal, oral, and rectal viral shed-ding, indicating that this vaccine will be efficacious as a COVID-19 vaccine for domestic cats.