Safety and immunogenicity of a synthetic carbohydrate conjugate vaccine against Shigella flexneri 2a in healthy adult volunteers: a phase 1, dose-escalating, single-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study

Dani Cohen, Jacob Atsmon, Cécile Artaud, Shiri Meron-Sudai, Marie Lise Gougeon, Anya Bialik, Sophy Goren, Valeria Asato, Ortal Ariel-Cohen, Arava Reizis, Alexandra Dorman, Carla W.G. Hoitink, Janny Westdijk, Shai Ashkenazi, Philippe Sansonetti, Laurence A. Mulard, Armelle Phalipon

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64 Scopus citations


Background: Shigella remains in the top four pathogens responsible for moderate to severe diarrhoea in children below 5 years of age. The shigella O-specific polysaccharide (O-SP) is a promising vaccine target. We developed a conjugate vaccine prototype incorporating a unique well defined synthetic oligosaccharide hapten, chemically designed for optimal antigenic, conformational, structural, and functional mimicry of the O-SP from Shigella flexneri 2a (SF2a). We aimed to assess the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of this original synthetic oligosaccharide-based vaccine candidate, SF2a-TT15, conceived to drive the antibody response towards the key protective determinants of the native lipopolysaccharide antigen, in a first-in-human phase 1 study. Methods: We did a first-in-human, dose-escalating, single-blind, observer-masked, randomised, placebo-controlled study at the Clinical Research Center of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Israel). Participants were healthy adults aged 18–45 years with low titres of serum SF2a-specific IgG antibodies. 64 eligible participants were assigned to one of two cohorts. 32 participants in each of the two cohorts were randomly assigned via computer-generated algorithm in a stepwise manner to receive the 2 μg (cohort 1) and 10 μg oligosaccharide dose (cohort 2) of the SF2a-TT15 vaccine candidate non-adjuvanted or adjuvanted with aluminium hydroxide (alum) or matching placebos. The vaccine was administered as three single intramuscular injections into the arm, 28 days apart. The primary outcome was the incidence and severity of adverse events, which were assessed in the intention-to-treat safety population analysis including all participants who were randomly assigned and received at least one vaccine or placebo injection. The immunogenicity endpoints were secondary outcomes and were analysed in all participants who were randomly assigned, received all of the assigned injections before the time of the immunogenicity assessment, and provided blood samples for immunological follow-up (per-protocol immunogenicity analysis). The study is registered with, NCT02797236 and is completed. Findings: Of 203 volunteers initially screened, 64 participants were enrolled between Sept 20, 2016, and Sept 26, 2017. In each of the two cohorts, 12 participants received the adjuvanted vaccine, 12 received the non-adjuvanted vaccine and eight received the matching placebo (four each). The SF2a-TT15 glycoconjugate was well tolerated at both doses. No serious or severe adverse events occurred. Overall, seven (88%) of eight to 12 (100%) of 12 in each group of volunteers had one adverse event or more after receiving the study agents with the majority of adverse events, 300 (98%) of 307, considered mild in intensity. Of the seven adverse events defined as moderate in severity, one (nausea) was suspected to be related to the vaccine candidate. At all post-immunisation days and for both oligosaccharide doses, whether adjuvanted or not, SF2a-TT15 induced significantly higher serum IgG anti-SF2a lipopolysaccharide geometric mean titres (GMTs) as compared with baseline or with the corresponding GMTs in placebo recipients (p<0·01). After one injection, the non-adjuvanted 10 μg oligosaccharide dose induced a 27-times increase in IgG GMT (5080 vs 189) and the non-adjuvanted 2 μg oligosaccharide dose induced a five-times increase (1411 vs 283), compared with baseline. Alum enhanced the specific IgG response at 2 μg oligosaccharide dose after the third injection (GMTs 3200 vs 1176, p=0.045). Interpretation: SF2a-TT15 was safe and well tolerated and induced high titres of anti-SF2a LPS IgG antibodies. These results support further evaluation of this original synthetic oligosaccharide-protein conjugate vaccine candidate for safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy in target populations. Funding: The European Union Seventh Framework Programme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-558
Number of pages13
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


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