New Publication in the Prestigious Journal mBio

We are pleased to showcase our newest publication in the prestigious journal mBio which involved working with our partners in laboratory of Dr. Peter Rice at University of Massachusetts. This publication presents the results on designing a scalable vaccine for gonorrhea which still remains a world-wide problem. The peptide candidate is a 4-arm MAP peptide with a unique reversed scaffold for linking a thioether-constrained lipo-oligosaccharide mimicking peptide to each of the 4 arms of the MAP. Biological data is also presented showing the production of neutralizing antibodies in mouse models of gonorrhea. A link to our publication is found below the abstract.

The global spread of multidrug-resistant strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae constitutes a public health emergency. With limited antibiotic treatment options, there is an urgent need for development of a safe and effective vaccine against gonorrhea. Previously, we constructed a prototype vaccine candidate comprising a peptide mimic (mimitope) of a glycan epitope on gonococcal lipo-oligosaccharide (LOS), recognized by monoclonal antibody 2C7. The 2C7 epitope is (i) broadly expressed as a gonococcal antigenic target in human infection, (ii) a critical requirement for gonococcal colonization in the experimental setting, and (iii) a virulence determinant that is maintained and expressed by gonococci. Here, we have synthesized to >95% purity through a relatively facile and economical process a tetrapeptide derivative of the mimitope that was cyclized through a nonreducible thioether bond, thereby rendering the compound homogeneous and stable. This vaccine candidate, called TMCP2, when administered at 0, 3, and 6 weeks to BALB/c mice at either 50, 100 or 200 μg/dose in combination with glucopyranosyl lipid A-stable oil-in-water nanoemulsion (GLA-SE; a Toll-like receptor 4 and TH1-promoting adjuvant), elicited bactericidal IgG and reduced colonization levels of gonococci in experimentally infected mice while accelerating clearance by each of two different gonococcal strains. Similarly, a 3-dose biweekly schedule (50 μg TMCP2/dose) was also effective in mice. We have developed a gonococcal vaccine candidate that can be scaled up and produced economically to a high degree of purity. The candidate elicits bactericidal antibodies and is efficacious in a preclinical experimental infection model.

https://mbio.asm.org/content/10/6/e02552-19