Novel virus-like nanoparticle vaccine effectively protects animal model from SARS-CoV-2 infection

Qibin Geng, Wanbo Tai, Victoria K. Baxter, Juan Shi, Yushun Wan, Xiujuan Zhang, Stephanie A. Montgomery, Sharon A. Taft-Benz, Elizabeth J. Anderson, Audrey C. Knight, Kenneth H. Dinnon, Sarah R. Leist, Ralph S. Baric, Jian Shang, Sung Wook Hong, Aleksandra Drelich, Chien Te K. Tseng, Marc Jenkins, Mark Heise, Lanying DuFang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The key to battling the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential aftermath is to develop a variety of vaccines that are efficacious and safe, elicit lasting immunity, and cover a range of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Recombinant viral receptor-binding domains (RBDs) are safe vaccine candidates but often have limited efficacy due to the lack of virus-like immunogen display pattern. Here we have developed a novel virus-like nanoparticle (VLP) vaccine that displays 120 copies of SARS-CoV-2 RBD on its surface. This VLP-RBD vaccine mimics virus-based vaccines in immunogen display, which boosts its efficacy, while maintaining the safety of protein-based subunit vaccines. Compared to the RBD vaccine, the VLP-RBD vaccine induced five times more neutralizing antibodies in mice that efficiently blocked SARS-CoV-2 from attaching to its host receptor and potently neutralized the cell entry of variant SARS-CoV-2 strains, SARS-CoV-1, and SARS-CoV-1-related bat coronavirus. These neutralizing immune responses induced by the VLP-RBD vaccine did not wane during the two-month study period. Furthermore, the VLP-RBD vaccine effectively protected mice from SARS-CoV-2 challenge, dramatically reducing the development of clinical signs and pathological changes in immunized mice. The VLP-RBD vaccine provides one potentially effective solution to controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1009897
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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