Rabies is nearly 100% lethal in the absence of treatment, killing an estimated 59,000 people annually. Vaccines and biologics are highly efficacious when administered properly. Sixteen rabies-related viruses (lyssaviruses) are similarly lethal, but some are divergent enough to evade protection from current vaccines and biologics, which are based only on the classical rabies virus (RABV). Here we present the development and characterization of LyssaVax, a vaccine featuring a structurally designed, functional chimeric glycoprotein (G) containing immunologically important domains from both RABV G and the highly divergent Mokola virus (MOKV) G. LyssaVax elicits high titers of antibodies specific to both RABV and MOKV Gs in mice. Immune sera also neutralize a range of wild-type lyssaviruses across the major phylogroups. LyssaVax-immunized mice are protected against challenge with recombinant RABV and MOKV. Altogether, LyssaVax demonstrates the utility of structural modeling in vaccine design and constitutes a broadened lyssavirus vaccine candidate.
Keywords: GLA-SE; lyssaviruses; prophylaxis; protein engineering; rabies; rhabdoviruses; structural modeling; vaccine.
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