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NPJ Vaccines. 2018 Nov 29;3:55. doi: 10.1038/s41541-018-0093-1. eCollection 2018.

Broadened immunity against influenza by vaccination with computationally designed influenza virus N1 neuraminidase constructs.

Author information

1VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology, VIB, 9052 Ghent, Belgium.
2Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology, Ghent University, 9052 Ghent, Belgium.
3Sanofi Pasteur, Research North America, Cambridge, Massachusetts USA.


Split inactivated influenza vaccines remain one of the primary preventative strategies against severe influenza disease in the population. However, current vaccines are only effective against a limited number of matched strains. The need for broadly protective vaccines is acute due to the high mutational rate of influenza viruses and multiple strain variants in circulation at any one time. The neuraminidase (NA) glycoprotein expressed on the influenza virion surface has recently regained recognition as a valuable vaccine candidate. We sought to broaden the protection provided by NA within the N1 subtype by computationally engineering consensus NA sequences. Three NA antigens (NA5200, NA7900, NA9100) were designed based on sequence clusters encompassing three major groupings of NA sequence space; (i) H1N1 2009 pandemic and Swine H1N1, (ii) historical seasonal H1N1 and (iii) H1N1 viruses ranging from 1933 till current times. Recombinant NA proteins were produced as a vaccine and used in a mouse challenge model. The design of the protein dictated the protection provided against the challenge strains. NA5200 protected against H1N1 pdm09, a Swine isolate from 1998 and NIBRG-14 (H5N1). NA7900 protected against all seasonal H1N1 viruses tested, and NA9100 showed the broadest range of protection covering all N1 viruses tested. By passive transfer studies and serological assays, the protection provided by the cluster-based consensus (CBC) designs correlated to antibodies capable of mediating NA inhibition. Importantly, sera raised to the consensus NAs displayed a broader pattern of reactivity and protection than naturally occurring NAs, potentially supporting a predictive approach to antigen design.

Conflict of interest statement

Sanofi Pasteur has submitted a provisional patent application on the CBC NAs. T.S, E.O.O., R.P.O., T.U.V., X.S. and E.R.J. are named as inventors on that patent application. T.Y., A.S., I.C. and H.K. declare no competing interest.

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