Efficacy, immunogenicity, and safety of a plant-derived, quadrivalent, virus-like particle influenza vaccine in adults (18–64 years) and older adults (≥65 years): two multicentre, randomised phase 3 trials

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Title

Efficacy, immunogenicity, and safety of a plant-derived, quadrivalent, virus-like particle influenza vaccine in adults (18–64 years) and older adults (≥65 years): two multicentre, randomised phase 3 trials

Subject

Description

Seasonal influenza remains a substantial public health threat despite the availability of egg-derived and other vaccines. Plant-based manufacturing might address some of the limitations of current vaccines. We describe two phase 3 efficacy studies of a recombinant quadrivalent virus-like particle (QVLP) influenza vaccine manufactured in plants, one in adults aged 18–64 years (the 18–64 study) and one in older people aged 65 years and older (the 65-plus study).

A response to this article was published:

Date Last Updated (Year-Month-Day)

2020-10-13

Citation

Ward, Brian J., Alexander Makarkov, Annie Séguin, Stéphane Pillet, Sonia Trépanier, Jiwanjeet Dhaliwall, Michael D. Libman, Timo Vesikari, and Nathalie Landry. 2020. "Efficacy, immunogenicity, and safety of a plant-derived, quadrivalent, virus-like particle influenza vaccine in adults (18-64 years) and older adults (≥65 years): two multicentre, randomised phase 3 trials." The Lancet.

Abstract

Summary

Background

Seasonal influenza remains a substantial public health threat despite the availability of egg-derived and other vaccines. Plant-based manufacturing might address some of the limitations of current vaccines. We describe two phase 3 efficacy studies of a recombinant quadrivalent virus-like particle (QVLP) influenza vaccine manufactured in plants, one in adults aged 18–64 years (the 18–64 study) and one in older people aged 65 years and older (the 65-plus study).

Methods

We did two randomised, observer-blind, multinational studies in the northern hemisphere in the 2017–18 (the 18–64 study) and 2018–19 (the 65-plus study) influenza seasons. The 18–64 study was done at 73 sites and the 65-plus study was done at 104 sites, both across Asia, Europe, and North America. In the 18–64 study, inclusion criteria were body-mass index less than 40 kg/m 2; age 18–64 years at screening visit; and good health. In the 65-plus study, inclusion criteria were body-mass index of maximum 35 kg/m 2; aged 65 years or older at screening visit; not living in a rehabilitation centre or care home; and no acute or evolving medical problems. Participants in the 18–64 study were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive either QVLP vaccine (30 μg haemagglutinin per strain) or placebo. Participants in the 65-plus study were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive QVLP vaccine (30 μg haemagglutinin per strain) or quadrivalent inactivated vaccine (QIV; 15 μg haemagglutinin per strain). The primary outcome in the 18–64 study was absolute vaccine efficacy to prevent laboratory-confirmed, respiratory illness caused by antigenically matched influenza strains. The primary outcome in the 65-plus study was relative vaccine efficacy to prevent laboratory-confirmed influenza-like illness caused by any influenza strain. The primary analyses were done in the per-protocol population and safety was assessed in all participants who received the assigned treatment. These studies are registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (18–64 study NCT03301051; 65-plus study NCT03739112).

Findings

In the 18–64 study, between Aug 30, 2017, and Jan 15, 2018, 10 160 participants were randomly assigned to receive either QVLP vaccine (5077 participants) or placebo (5083 participants). The per-protocol population consisted of 4814 participants in the QVLP group and 4812 in the placebo group. The study did not meet its primary endpoint of 70% absolute vaccine efficacy for the QVLP vaccine (35·1% [95% CI 17·9 to 48·7]) against respiratory illness caused by matched strains. 55 (1·1%) of 5064 participants in the QVLP group versus 51 (1·0%) of 5072 in the placebo group had a serious adverse event. Four (0·1%) and six [0·1%] participants had severe treatment-related treatment-emergent adverse events. In the 65-plus study, between Sept 18, 2018, and Feb 22, 2019, 12 794 participants were randomly assigned to receive either QVLP vaccine (6396 participants) or QIV (6398 participants). The per-protocol population consisted of 5996 participants in the QVLP group and 6026 in the QIV group. The study met its primary non-inferiority endpoint with a relative vaccine efficacy of the QVLP vaccine for the prevention of influenza-like illness caused by any strain of 8·8% (−16·7 to 28·7). 263 (4·1%) of 6352 participants in the QVLP group versus 266 (4·2%) of 6366 in the QIV group had serious adverse events (one [<0·1%] vs two [<0·1%] were considered treatment-related); one (<0·1%) versus three (<0·1%) participants had severe treatment-related treatment-emergent adverse events.

Interpretation

These efficacy studies are the first large-scale studies of any plant-derived human vaccine. Together, they show that the plant-derived QVLP vaccine can provide substantial protection against respiratory illness and influenza-like illness caused by influenza viruses in adults. QVLP vaccine was well tolerated and no major safety signal arose in participants who received QVLP vaccine across the two studies.

Funding

Medicago.

Accessibility

Available online with Lancet subscription.