BACKGROUND. Noroviruses are the leading cause of epidemic acute gastroenteritis and foodborne diarrheal disease in humans. However, there are no approved vaccines for noroviruses. Potential correlates of protection identified through human challenge studies include mucosal IgA, memory B cells, and serum-blocking antibody titers (BT50). METHODS. We conducted a single-site, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of an oral norovirus vaccine to determine safety and immunogenicity. This tablet vaccine is comprised of a nonreplicating adenovirus-based vector expressing the VP1 gene from the GI.1 norovirus strain and a double-stranded RNA adjuvant. Sixty-six adult subjects meeting inclusion/exclusion criteria were randomized 2:1 to receive a single vaccine dose or placebo, respectively. Immunogenicity was primarily assessed by serum BT50. Additional outcomes included serum ELISA titers, fecal and saliva antibody titers, memory and antibody-secreting cell (ASC) frequency, and B cell phenotyping. RESULTS. The vaccine was well-tolerated, with no dose-limiting toxicities. Adverse events were mild or moderate. The primary immunological endpoint (increase in BT50 titers) was met in the high-dose group (P = 0.0003), with 78% showing a ≥2-fold rise in titers after a single immunization. Vaccine recipients also developed mucosally primed VP1-specific circulating ASCs, IgA+ memory B cells expressing gut-homing receptor (α4β7), and fecal IgA, indicating substantial and local responses potentially relevant to prevent norovirus infection. CONCLUSION. This oral norovirus vaccine was well-tolerated and generated substantial immune responses, including systemic and mucosal antibodies as well as memory IgA/IgG. These results are a major step forward for the development of a safe and immunogenic oral norovirus vaccine. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02868073. FUNDING. Vaxart.
Leesun Kim, David Liebowitz, Karen Lin, Kassandra Kasparek, Marcela F. Pasetti, Shaily J. Garg, Keith Gottlieb, George Trager, Sean N. Tucker