A malaria vaccine that elicits long-lasting protection and is suitable for use in endemic areas remains urgently needed. Here, we assessed the immunogenicity and prophylactic efficacy of a vaccine targeting a recently described epitope on the major surface antigen on Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites, circumsporozoite protein (CSP). Using a virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccine platform technology, we developed a vaccine that targets the junctional region between the N-terminal and central repeat regions of CSP. This region is recognized by monoclonal antibodies, including mAb CIS43, that have been shown to potently prevent liver invasion in animal models. We show that CIS43 VLPs elicit high-titer and long-lived anti-CSP antibody responses in mice and is immunogenic in non-human primates. In mice, vaccine immunogenicity was enhanced by using mixed adjuvant formulations. Immunization with CIS43 VLPs conferred partial protection from malaria infection in a mouse model, and passive transfer of serum from immunized macaques also inhibited parasite liver invasion in the mouse infection model. Our findings demonstrate that a Qβ VLP-based vaccine targeting the CIS43 epitope combined with various adjuvants is highly immunogenic in mice and macaques, elicits long-lasting anti-CSP antibodies, and inhibits parasite infection in a mouse model. Thus, the CIS43 VLP vaccine is a promising pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine candidate.
- Protein vaccines