The 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa led to accelerated efforts to develop vaccines against these highly virulent viruses. A live, recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-based vaccine has been deployed in outbreak settings and appears highly effective. Vaccines based on replication-deficient adenovirus vectors either alone or in combination with a multivalent modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) Ebola vaccine also appear promising and are progressing in clinical evaluation. However, the ability of current live vector-based approaches to protect against multiple pathogenic species of Ebola is not yet established, and eliciting durable responses may require additional booster vaccinations. Here, we report the development of a bivalent, spherical Ebola virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine that incorporates glycoproteins (GPs) from Zaire Ebola virus (EBOV) and Sudan Ebola virus (SUDV) and is designed to extend the breadth of immunity beyond EBOV. Immunization of rabbits with bivalent Ebola VLPs produced antibodies that neutralized all four pathogenic species of Ebola viruses and elicited antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) responses against EBOV and SUDV. Vaccination of rhesus macaques with bivalent VLPs generated strong humoral immune responses, including high titers of binding, as well as neutralizing antibodies and ADCC responses. VLP vaccination led to a significant increase in the frequency of Ebola GP-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses. These results demonstrate that a novel bivalent Ebola VLP vaccine elicits strong humoral and cellular immune responses against pathogenic Ebola viruses and support further evaluation of this approach as a potential addition to Ebola vaccine development efforts.IMPORTANCE Ebola outbreaks result in significant morbidity and mortality in affected countries. Although several leading candidate Ebola vaccines have been developed and advanced in clinical testing, additional vaccine candidates may be needed to provide protection against different Ebola species and to extend the durability of protection. A novel approach demonstrated here is to express two genetically diverse glycoproteins on a spherical core, generating a vaccine that can broaden immune responses against known pathogenic Ebola viruses. This approach provides a new method to broaden and potentially extend protective immune responses against Ebola viruses.
Keywords: Bundibugyo virus; Ebola glycoprotein; Ebola vaccine; Ebola virus; Ebola virus disease; Marburg virus; Sudan virus; Tai Forest virus; virus-like particles.
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