Biodistribution and environmental safety of a live-attenuated YF17D-vectored SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate

Li-Hsin Li, Laurens Liesenborghs, Lanjiao Wang, Marleen Lox, Michael Bright Yakass, Sander Jansen, Ana Lucia Rosales Rosas, Xin Zhang, Hendrik Jan Thibaut, Dirk Teuwen, Johan Neyts, Leen Delang, Kai Dallmeier

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New platforms are needed for the design of novel prophylactic vaccines and advanced immune therapies. Live-attenuated yellow fever vaccine YF17D serves as a vector for several licensed vaccines and platform for novel candidates. On the basis of YF17D, we developed an exceptionally potent COVID-19 vaccine candidate called YF-S0. However, use of such live RNA viruses raises safety concerns, such as adverse events linked to original YF17D (yellow fever vaccine-associated neurotropic disease [YEL-AND] and yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease [YEL-AVD]). In this study, we investigated the biodistribution and shedding of YF-S0 in hamsters. Likewise, we introduced hamsters deficient in signal transducer and activator of transcription 2 (STAT2) signaling as a new preclinical model of YEL-AND/AVD. Compared with YF17D, YF-S0 showed improved safety with limited dissemination to brain and visceral tissues, absent or low viremia, and no shedding of infectious virus. Considering that yellow fever virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, any inadvertent exposure to the live recombinant vector via mosquito bites is to be excluded. The transmission risk of YF-S0 was hence compared with readily transmitting YF-Asibi strain and non-transmitting YF17D vaccine, with no evidence for productive infection of mosquitoes. The overall favorable safety profile of YF-S0 is expected to translate to other vaccines based on the same YF17D platform.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Therapy: Methods & Clinical Development
Pages (from-to)215-224
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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