Immunogenic BNT162b vaccines protect rhesus macaques from SARS-CoV-2

Annette B. Vogel, Isis Kanevsky, Ye Che, Kena A. Swanson, Alexander Muik, Mathias Vormehr, Lena M. Kranz, Kerstin C. Walzer, Stephanie Hein, Alptekin Güler, Jakob Loschko, Mohan S. Maddur, Ayuko Ota-Setlik, Kristin Tompkins, Journey Cole, Bonny G. Lui, Thomas Ziegenhals, Arianne Plaschke, David Eisel, Sarah C. DanyStephanie Fesser, Stephanie Erbar, Ferdia Bates, Diana Schneider, Bernadette Jesionek, Bianca Sänger, Ann Kathrin Wallisch, Yvonne Feuchter, Hanna Junginger, Stefanie A. Krumm, André P. Heinen, Petra Adams-Quack, Julia Schlereth, Stefan Schille, Christoph Kröner, Ramón de la Caridad Güimil Garcia, Thomas Hiller, Leyla Fischer, Rani S. Sellers, Shambhunath Choudhary, Olga Gonzalez, Fulvia Vascotto, Matthew R. Gutman, Jane A. Fontenot, Shannan Hall-Ursone, Kathleen Brasky, Matthew C. Griffor, Seungil Han, Andreas A.H. Su, Joshua A. Lees, Nicole L. Nedoma, Ellene H. Mashalidis, Parag V. Sahasrabudhe, Charles Y. Tan, Danka Pavliakova, Guy Singh, Camila Fontes-Garfias, Michael Pride, Ingrid L. Scully, Tara Ciolino, Jennifer Obregon, Michal Gazi, Ricardo Carrion, Kendra J. Alfson, Warren V. Kalina, Deepak Kaushal, Pei Yong Shi, Thorsten Klamp, Corinna Rosenbaum, Andreas N. Kuhn, Özlem Türeci, Philip R. Dormitzer, Kathrin U. Jansen, Ugur Sahin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 is urgently needed in quantities sufficient to immunise large populations. We report the preclinical development of two BNT162b vaccine candidates, which contain lipid-nanoparticle (LNP) formulated nucleoside-modified mRNA encoding SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein-derived immunogens. BNT162b1 encodes a soluble, secreted, trimerised receptor-binding domain (RBD-foldon). BNT162b2 encodes the full-length transmembrane spike glycoprotein, locked in its prefusion conformation (P2 S). The flexibly tethered RBDs of the RBD-foldon bind ACE2 with high avidity. Approximately 20% of the P 2S trimers are in the two-RBD ‘down,’ one-RBD ‘up’ state. In mice, one intramuscular dose of either candidate elicits a dose-dependent antibody response with high virus-entry inhibition titres and strong TH1 CD4+ and IFNγ+ CD8+ T-cell responses. Prime/boost vaccination of rhesus macaques with BNT162b candidates elicits SARS-CoV-2 neutralising geometric mean titres 8.2 to 18.2 times that of a SARS-CoV-2 convalescent human serum panel. The vaccine candidates protect macaques from SARS-CoV-2 challenge, with BNT162b2 protecting the lower respiratory tract from the presence of viral RNA and with no evidence of disease enhancement. Both candidates are being evaluated in phase 1 trials in Germany and the United States1–3. BNT162b2 is being evaluated in an ongoing global, pivotal Phase 2/3 trial (NCT04380701, NCT04368728).

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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