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SARS-CoV-2 RBD-Tetanus toxoid conjugate vaccine induces a strong neutralizing immunity in preclinical studies

Controlling the global COVID-19 pandemic depends, among other measures, on developing preventive vaccines at an unprecedented pace. Vaccines approved for use and those in development intend to use neutralizing antibodies to block viral sites binding to the host’s cellular receptors. Virus infection is mediated by the spike glycoprotein trimer on the virion surface via its receptor binding domain (RBD). Antibody response to this domain is an important outcome of the immunization and correlates well with viral neutralization. Here we show that macromolecular constructs with recombinant RBD conjugated to tetanus toxoid induce a potent immune response in laboratory animals. Some advantages of the immunization with the viral antigen coupled to tetanus toxoid have become evident such as predominant IgG immune response due to affinity maturation and long-term specific B-memory cells. This paper demonstrates that subunit conjugate vaccines can be an alternative for COVID-19, paving the way for other viral conjugate vaccines based on the use of small viral proteins involved in the infection process.

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