Safety and immunogenicity of a chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored Ebola vaccine in healthy adults: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-finding, phase 1/2a study

Olga De Santis, Régine Audran, Emilie Pothin, Loane Warpelin-Decrausaz, Laure Vallotton, Grégoire Wuerzner, Camille Cochet, Daniel Estoppey, Viviane Steiner-Monard, Sophie Lonchampt, Anne-Christine Thierry, Carole Mayor, Robert T Bailer, Olivier Tshiani Mbaya, Yan Zhou, Aurélie Ploquin, Nancy J Sullivan, Barney S Graham, François Roman, Iris De Ryck, W Ripley Ballou, Marie Paule Kieny, Vasee Moorthy, François Spertini, Blaise Genton
Lancet Infectious Diseases 2016, 16 (3): 311-20

BACKGROUND: The ongoing Ebola outbreak led to accelerated efforts to test vaccine candidates. On the basis of a request by WHO, we aimed to assess the safety and immunogenicity of the monovalent, recombinant, chimpanzee adenovirus type-3 vector-based Ebola Zaire vaccine (ChAd3-EBO-Z).

METHODS: We did this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-finding, phase 1/2a trial at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland. Participants (aged 18-65 years) were randomly assigned (2:2:1), via two computer-generated randomisation lists for individuals potentially deployed in endemic areas and those not deployed, to receive a single intramuscular dose of high-dose vaccine (5 × 10(10) viral particles), low-dose vaccine (2·5 × 10(10) viral particles), or placebo. Deployed participants were allocated to only the vaccine groups. Group allocation was concealed from non-deployed participants, investigators, and outcome assessors. The safety evaluation was not masked for potentially deployed participants, who were therefore not included in the safety analysis for comparison between the vaccine doses and placebo, but were pooled with the non-deployed group to compare immunogenicity. The main objectives were safety and immunogenicity of ChAd3-EBO-Z. We did analysis by intention to treat. This trial is registered with, number NCT02289027.

FINDINGS: Between Oct 24, 2014, and June 22, 2015, we randomly assigned 120 participants, of whom 18 (15%) were potentially deployed and 102 (85%) were non-deployed, to receive high-dose vaccine (n=49), low-dose vaccine (n=51), or placebo (n=20). Participants were followed up for 6 months. No vaccine-related serious adverse events were reported. We recorded local adverse events in 30 (75%) of 40 participants in the high-dose group, 33 (79%) of 42 participants in the low-dose group, and five (25%) of 20 participants in the placebo group. Fatigue or malaise was the most common systemic adverse event, reported in 25 (62%) participants in the high-dose group, 25 (60%) participants in the low-dose group, and five (25%) participants in the placebo group, followed by headache, reported in 23 (57%), 25 (60%), and three (15%) participants, respectively. Fever occurred 24 h after injection in 12 (30%) participants in the high-dose group and 11 (26%) participants in the low-dose group versus one (5%) participant in the placebo group. Geometric mean concentrations of IgG antibodies against Ebola glycoprotein peaked on day 28 at 51 μg/mL (95% CI 41·1-63·3) in the high-dose group, 44·9 μg/mL (25·8-56·3) in the low-dose group, and 5·2 μg/mL (3·5-7·6) in the placebo group, with respective response rates of 96% (95% CI 85·7-99·5), 96% (86·5-99·5), and 5% (0·1-24·9). Geometric mean concentrations decreased by day 180 to 25·5 μg/mL (95% CI 20·6-31·5) in the high-dose group, 22·1 μg/mL (19·3-28·6) in the low-dose group, and 3·2 μg/mL (2·4-4·9) in the placebo group. 28 (57%) participants given high-dose vaccine and 31 (61%) participants given low-dose vaccine developed glycoprotein-specific CD4 cell responses, and 33 (67%) and 35 (69%), respectively, developed CD8 responses.

INTERPRETATION: ChAd3-EBO-Z was safe and well tolerated, although mild to moderate systemic adverse events were common. A single dose was immunogenic in almost all vaccine recipients. Antibody responses were still significantly present at 6 months. There was no significant difference between doses for safety and immunogenicity outcomes. This acceptable safety profile provides a reliable basis to proceed with phase 2 and phase 3 efficacy trials in Africa.

FUNDING: Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), through the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.

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