JOURNAL ARTICLE

Evaluation of three live attenuated H2 pandemic influenza vaccine candidates in mice and ferrets

Grace L Chen, Elaine W Lamirande, Xing Cheng, Fernando Torres-Velez, Marlene Orandle, Hong Jin, George Kemble, Kanta Subbarao
Journal of Virology 2014, 88 (5): 2867-76
24371061

UNLABELLED: H2 influenza viruses have not circulated in humans since 1968, and therefore a significant portion of the population would be susceptible to infection should H2 influenza viruses reemerge. H2 influenza viruses continue to circulate in avian reservoirs worldwide, and these reservoirs are a potential source from which these viruses could emerge. Three reassortant cold-adapted (ca) H2 pandemic influenza vaccine candidates with hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes derived from the wild-type A/Japan/305/1957 (H2N2) (Jap/57), A/mallard/6750/1978 (H2N2) (mal/78), or A/swine/MO/4296424/2006 (H2N3) (sw/06) viruses and the internal protein gene segments from the A/Ann Arbor/6/60 ca virus were generated by plasmid-based reverse genetics (Jap/57 ca, mal/78 ca, and sw/06 ca, respectively). The vaccine candidates exhibited the in vitro phenotypes of temperature sensitivity and cold adaptation and were restricted in replication in the respiratory tract of ferrets. In mice and ferrets, the vaccines elicited neutralizing antibodies and conferred protection against homologous wild-type virus challenge. Of the three candidates, the sw/06 ca vaccine elicited cross-reactive antibodies and provided significant protection against the greatest number of heterologous viruses. These observations suggest that the sw/06 ca vaccine should be further evaluated in a clinical trial as an H2 pandemic influenza vaccine candidate.

IMPORTANCE: Influenza pandemics arise when novel influenza viruses are introduced into a population with little prior immunity to the new virus and often result in higher rates of illness and death than annual seasonal influenza epidemics. An influenza H2 subtype virus caused a pandemic in 1957, and H2 viruses circulated in humans till 1968. H2 influenza viruses continue to circulate in birds, and the development of an H2 influenza vaccine candidate is therefore considered a priority in preparing for future pandemics. However, we cannot predict whether a human H2 virus will reemerge or a novel avian H2 virus will emerge. We identified three viruses as suitable candidates for further evaluation as vaccines to protect against H2 influenza viruses and evaluated the immune responses and protection that these three vaccines provided in mice and ferrets.

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