Title:
COMBINATION VACCINES WITH SEROGROUP B MENINGOCOCCUS AND D/T/P
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Serogroup B meningococcus antigens can successfully be combined with diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis toxoids (“DTP”) to provide effective combination vaccines for protecting against multiple pathogens. These combinations are effective with a range of different adjuvants, and with both pediatric-type and booster-type DTP ratios. The adjuvant can improve the immune response which the composition elicits; alternatively, by including an adjuvant it is possible for the compositions to have a relatively lower amount of antigen while nevertheless having immunogenicity which is comparable to unadjuvanted combination vaccines.



Inventors:
Baudner, Barbara (Siena, IT)
O'hagan, Derek (Winchester, MA, US)
Singh, Manmohan (Cary, NC, US)
Bufali, Simone (Siena, IT)
Application Number:
16/036487
Publication Date:
11/08/2018
Filing Date:
07/16/2018
Assignee:
GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals S.A. (Rixensart, BE)
International Classes:
A61K39/095; A61K39/39; A61K39/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
BASKAR, PADMAVATHI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GlaxoSmithKline (Global Patents UP4110 1250 South Collegeville Road Collegeville PA 19426)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An immunogenic composition, comprising: (a) a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen; and (b) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid, wherein the diphtheria toxoid is present in an excess relative to tetanus toxoid as measured in Lf units.

2. The composition of claim 1, further comprising an adjuvant.

Description:

SUBMISSION OF SEQUENCE LISTING ON ASCII TEXT FILE

The content of the following submission on ASCII text file is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety: a computer readable form (CRF) of the Sequence Listing (file name: 303822012710SeqList.txt, date recorded; Dec. 16, 2016, size: 122 KB).

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention is in the field of combination vaccines, i.e. vaccines containing mixed immunogens from more than one pathogen, such that administration of the vaccine can simultaneously immunize a subject against more than one pathogen.

BACKGROUND ART

Vaccines containing antigens from more than one pathogenic organism within a single dose are known as “multivalent” or “combination” vaccines. Various combination vaccines have been approved for human use, including trivalent vaccines for protecting against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis or against measles, mumps and rubella. These vaccines offer patients the advantage of receiving a reduced number of injections, which can lead to the clinical advantage of increased compliance (e.g. see chapter 29 of ref 1), particularly in pediatric patients.

One difficulty when providing new combination vaccines is the potential for adverse vaccine-vaccine interactions between the mixed components, which way be due to physical or chemical factors. For instance, reference 2 discusses potential alterations in immunogenicity when antigens are combined, and reference 3 reports that the development of combination vaccines involves much more than the simple mixing of existing antigens. Similarly, reference 4 reviews the technical challenges faced when making a combination vaccine.

It is an object of the invention to provide further and improved combination vaccines, and in particular those which can protect against serogroup B meningococcus and other pathogens.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The inventors have shown that serogroup B meningococcus antigens can successfully be combined with diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis toxoids (“DTP”) to provide effective combination vaccines for protecting against multiple pathogens. These combinations are effective with a range of different adjuvants, and with both pediatric-type and booster-type DTP ratios. The adjuvant can improve the immune response which the composition elicits; alternatively, by including an adjuvant it is possible for the compositions to have a relatively lower amount of antigen while nevertheless having immunogenicity which is comparable to unadjuvanted combination vaccines.

In general, therefore, the invention provides an immunogenic composition comprising (a) a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen and (b) at least one of a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and/or a pertussis toxoid. The composition will usually also include an adjuvant, such as an aluminium salt or an oil-in-water emulsion. Preferably component (b) includes all three of a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid. In some embodiments component (b) includes more diphtheria toxoid than tetanus toxoid (measured in Lf units), but in other embodiments it includes more tetanus toxoid than diphtheria toxoid.

In a first embodiment the invention provides an immunogenic composition comprising: (a) a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen; (b) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid; and (c) an adjuvant. The adjuvant can comprise one or more of an aluminium salt adjuvant, a TLR agonist, or an oil-in-water emulsion.

In a second embodiment the invention provides an immunogenic composition comprising: (a) a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen; and (b) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid, wherein the diphtheria toxoid is present in an excess relative to tetanus toxoid as measured in Lf units. This composition can also include an adjuvant, and this can comprise one or more of an aluminium salt adjuvant, a TLR agonist, or an oil-in-water emulsion.

In a third embodiment the invention provides an immunogenic composition comprising: (a) a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen; and (b) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid, wherein the tetanus toxoid is present in an excess relative to diphtheria toxoid as measured in Lf units. This composition can also include an adjuvant, and this can comprise one or more of an aluminium salt adjuvant, a TLR agonist, or an oil-in-water emulsion.

Compositions of the invention can include antigens in addition to diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, and pertussis toxoid e.g. they can include Hib capsular saccharide (ideally conjugated), HBsAg, IPV, meningococcal capsular saccharide (ideally conjugated), etc.

Serogroup B Meningococcus Immunogens

Immunogenic compositions of the invention include a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen. When administered to human beings (or to a suitable animal model) the immunogent can elicit a bactericidal immune response. These immunogens can be proteins, liposaccharides, or vesicles.

Various serogroup B meningococcus protein immunogens are known in the art, including but not limited to NHBA, fHbp and NadA as found in the BEXSERO™ product [7,8]. Further protein immunogens which can be included in compositions of the invention are HmbR, NspA, NhhA, App, Omp85, TbpA, TbpB, Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase, and ZnuD. Further details of these immunogens are discussed below.

A vaccine may include one or more of these various immunogens e.g. it can include each of NHBA, fHbp and NadA. It can also include variant forms of a single immunogen e.g. it can include more than one variant of meningococcal fHbp (i.e. two fHbp proteins with different sequences [191, 9]).

The serogroup B menigococcus protein immunogens can be present as fusion proteins. For instance, the BEXSERO™ product includes two fusion proteins: SEQ ID NO: 4 is a fusion of NMB2091 and a fHbp; and SEQ ID NO: 5 is a fusion of a NHBA and NMB1030. One useful fusion protein is SEQ ID NO: 19, which includes NMB2091 and two copies of a fHbp.

Two useful combinations of serogroup B immunogens include: a NHBA e.g. SEQ ID NO: 5, a fHbp e.g. either SEQ ID NO: 4 or SEQ ID NO: 19; and a NadA e.g. SEQ ID NO: 6. Other useful combinations include proteins which differ from SEQ ID NOs: 5, 4, 19 & 6 by up to 5 amino acids each but which retain the ability to elicit antibodies which recognise SEQ ID NOs: 5, 4, 19 & 6.

Compositions which include at least one fHbp immunogen are preferred e.g. those containing two different fHbp sequences. Details of suitable fHbp combinations are discussed below.

Thus compositions of the invention can usefully include (a) the mixture of three serogroup B meningococcus protein immunogens disclosed as ‘5CVMB’ in reference 8 or (b) the mixture of serogroup B meningococcus protein immunogens disclosed as ‘rLP2086’ in reference 10.

Usually, the serogroup B meningococcus immunogens are purified soluble recombinant proteins. In some embodiments, however, they can be present in menigococcal vesicles. Thus the composition can include meningococcal vesicles i.e. an protcoliposomic vesicle obtained by disruption of or blebbing from a meningococcal outer membrane to form vesicles therefrom that retain antigens from the outer membrane. Thus this term includes, for instance OMVs (sometimes referred to as ‘blebs’), microvesicles (MVs) and ‘native OMVs’ (‘NOMVs’). Various such vesicles are known in the art (e.g. see references 11 to 25) and any of these can be included within a composition of the invention. Further details of these vesicles are given below. In some embodiments, however, the composition is vesicle-free.

A composition of the invention can preferably elicit a serum bactericidal assay after being administered. These responses are conveniently measured in mice and are a standard indicator of vaccine efficacy. Serum bactericidal activity (SBA) measures bacterial killing mediated by complement, and can be assayed using human or baby rabbit complement. For instance, a composition may induce at least a 4-fold rise in SBA in more than 90% if recipients.

A composition of the invention can preferably elicit an immune response in human beings which is protective against serogroup B meningococcus. For instance, the vaccine may elicit an immune response which is protective at least against a prototype serogroup B strain such as MC58, which is widely available (e.g. ATCC BAA-335) and was the strain sequences in reference 26. Other strains can also be used, but a response against MC58 is easily tested.

Diphtheria Toxoid

Diphtheria is caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a Gram-positive non-sporing aerobic bacterium. This organism expresses a prophage-encoded ADP-ribosylating exotoxin (‘diphtheria toxin’), which can be treated (e.g. using formaldehyde) to give a toxoid that is no longer toxic but that remains antigenic and is able to stimulate the production of specific anti-toxin antibodies after injection. Diphtheria toxoids are disclosed in more detail in chapter 13 of reference 1. Preferred diphtheria toxoids are those prepared by formaldehyde treatment. The diphtheria toxoid can be obtained by growing C. diphtheriae in growth medium (e.g. Fenton medium, or Linggoud & Fenton medium), which may be supplemented with bovine extract, followed by formaldehyde treatment, ultrafiltration and precipitation. The toxoided material may then be treated by a process comprising sterile filtration and/or dialysis.

A composition should include enough diphtheria toxoid to elicit circulating diphtheria antitoxin levels of at least 0.01 IU/ml. Quantities of diphtheria toxoid are generally measured in the “Lf” unit (“flocculating units”, or the “limes flocculating dose”, or the “limit of flocculation”), defined as the amount of toxin/toxoid which, when mixed with one International Unit of antitoxin, produces an optimally flocculating mixture [27,28]. For example, the NIBSC supplies ‘Diphtheria Toxoid, Plain’ [29], which contains 300 LF per ampoule, and also supplies ‘The 1st International Reference Reagent For Diphtheria Toxoid For Flocculation Test’ [30] which contains 900 Lf per ampoule. The concentration of diphtheria toxoid in a composition can readily be determined using a flocculation assay by comparison with a reference material calibrated against such reference reagents.

The immunizing potency of diphtheria toxoid in a composition is generally expressed in international units (IU). The potency can be assessed by comparing the protection afforded by a composition in laboratory animals (typically guinea pigs) with a reference vaccine that has been calibrated in IUs. NIBSC supplies the ‘Diphtheria Toxoid Adsorbed Third International Standard 1999’ [31,32], which contains 160 IU per ampoule, and is suitable for calibrating such assays.

The conversion between IU and Lf systems depends on the particular toxoid preparation.

Compositions of the invention typically include, per unit dose, between 1-40 Lf diphtheria toxoid. In a pediatric-type composition, where the diphtheria toxoid is present in an excess relative to tetanus toxoid (in Lf units), the composition will generally include between 10-35 Lf diphtheria toxoid per unit dose e.g. between 15-30 Lf, such as 15, 25 or 30 Lf. In a booster-type composition, where tetanus toxoid is present in an excess relative to the diphtheria toxoid (in Lf units), the composition will generally include between 1-4 Lf diphtheria toxoid per unit dose e.g. between 1.5-3 Lf, such as 2 or 2.5 Lf. If a composition includes saccharide antigen(s) conjugated to diphtheria toxoid then these amounts exclude the amount of carrier protein in those conjugate(s).

By IU measurements, pediatric-type compositions will generally include ≥25 IU diphtheria toxoid per unit dose, whereas booster-type compositions will generally include 1-3 IU per unit dose.

If a composition includes an aluminium salt adjuvant then diphtheria toxoid in the composition is preferably adsorbed (more preferably totally adsorbed) onto it, and preferably onto an aluminium hydroxide adjuvant.

Tetanus Toxoid

Tetanus is caused by Clostridium tetani, a Gram-positive, spore-forming bacillus. This organism expresses an endopeptidase (‘tetanus toxin’), which can be treated to give a toxoid that is no longer toxic but that remains antigenic and is able to stimulate the production of specific anti-toxin antibodies after injection. Tetanus toxoids are disclosed in more detail in chapter 27 of reference 1. Preferred tetanus toxoids are those prepared by formaldehyde treatment. The tetanus toxoid can be obtained by growing C. tetani in growth medium (e.g. a Latham medium derived from bovine casein), followed by formaldehyde treatment, ultrafiltration and precipitation. The material may then be treated by a process comprising sterile filtration and/or dialysis.

A composition should include enough tetanus toxoid to elicit circulating tetanus antitoxin levels of at least 0.01 IU/ml. Quantities of tetanus toxoid are generally expressed in ‘Lf’ units (see above), defined as the amount of toxoid which, when mixed with one International Unit of antitoxin, produces an optimally flocculating mixture [27]. The NIBSC supplies ‘The 1st International Reference Reagent for Tetanus Toxoid For Flocculation Test’ [33] which contains 1000 LF per ampoule, by which measurements can be calibrated.

The immunizing potency of tetanus toxoid is measured in international units (IU), assessed by comparing the protection afforded by a composition in laboratory animals (typically guinea pigs) with a reference vaccine e.g. using NIBSC's ‘Tetanus Toxoid Adsorbed Third International Standard 2000’[34,35], which contains 469 IU per ampoule.

The conversion between IU and Lf systems depends on the particular toxoid preparation.

Compositions of the invention typically include between 2.5-25 Lf of tetanus toxoid per unit dose. In a pediatric-type composition, where diphtheria toxoid is present in an excess relative to the tetanus toxoid (in Lf units), the composition will generally include between 4-15 Lf tetanus toxoid per unit dose e.g. between 5-10 Lf, such as 5 or 10 Lf. In a booster-type composition, where the tetanus toxoid is present in an excess relative to diphtheria toxoid (in Lf units), the composition will generally include between 4-6 Lf tetanus toxoid per unit dose e.g. 5 Lf. If a composition includes saccharide antigen(s) conjugated to tetanus toxoid then these amounts exclude the amount of carrier protein in those conjugate(s).

By IU measurements, pediatric-type compositions will generally include ≥40 IU tetanus toxoid per unit dose, whereas booster-type compositions will generally include 15-25 IU per unit dose.

If a composition includes an aluminium salt adjuvant then diphtheria toxoid in the composition is preferably adsorbed (sometimes totally adsorbed) onto an aluminium salt, preferably onto an aluminium hydroxide adjuvant.

Pertussis Toxoid

Bordetella pertussis causes whooping cough. Compositions of the invention include pertussis toxoid (‘PT’) i.e. a detoxified form of pertussis toxin. The invention can use a PT-containing whole-cell pertussis antigen (“wP”) but preferably a composition is free from wP and instead includes an acellular (“aP”) PT-containing antigen i.e. a defined mixture of purified pertussis antigens. When using an aP antigen a composition of the invention will typically include, in addition to the PT, filamentous hemagglutinin (FHA) and/or pertactin (also known as the ‘69 kiloDalton outer membrane protein’). It can also optionally include fimbriae types 2and 3. Preparation of these various Pa antigens is well known in the art.

PT can be detoxified by treatment with formaldehyde and/or gluraraldehyde, and FHA and pertactin can also be treated in the same way. As an alternative to chemical detoxification of PT, the invention can use a mutant PT in which wild-type enzymatic activity has been reduced by mutagenesis [36] e.g. the 9K/129 G double mutant [37]. The use of such genetically-detoxified PT is preferred,

Quantities of acellular pertussis antigens are usually expressed in micrograms. Compositions of the invention typically include between 2-30 μg PT per unit dose. In a pediatric-type composition, PT can be present at between 5-30 μg per unit dose (e.g. 5, 7.5, 20 or 25 μg), whereas in a booster-type composition the composition will generally include between 2-10 μg PT per unit dose (e.g. 2.5 μg or 8 μg). Where a composition includes FHA, it is typically present between 2-30 μg per unit dose. In a pediatric-type composition, FHA can be present at between 2.5-25 μg per unit dose (e.g. 2.5, 5, 10, 20 or 25 μg), whereas in a booster-type composition FHA can be present at between 4-10 μg per unit dose (e.g. 5 μg or 8 μg). Where a composition includes pertactin, this is typically present between 2-10 μg per unit dose. In a pediatric-type composition, pertactin can be present at between 2.5-10 μg per unit dose (e.g. 2.5, 3, 8 or 10 μg), whereas in a booster-type composition pertactin can be present at between 2-3 μg per unit dose (e.g. 2.5 μg or 3 μg).

A composition normally contains ≥80 μg per unit dose of total acellular pertussis antigens. Each individual antigen will usually be present at ≥30 μg per unit dose.

It is usual that each of PT, FHA and pertactin are present in a composition of the invention. These may be present at various ratios (by mass), such as PT;FHA:p69 ratios of 20:20:3, 25:25:8, 16:16:5, 5:10:6, or 10:5:3. It is usual to have a mass excess of FHA relative to pertactin if both are present.

If a composition includes an aluminium salt adjuvant then PT in the composition is preferably adsorbed (sometimes totally adsorbed) onto an aluminium salt, preferably onto an aluminium hydroxide adjuvant. Any FHA can also be adsorbed to the aluminium salt. Any pertactin can be adsorbed to the aluminium salt adjuvant, but the presence of pertactin normally means that the composition requires the presence of aluminium hydroxide to ensure stable adsorption [38].

Hib Conjugates

Haemophilus influenzae type b (‘Hib’) causes bacterial meningitis. Hib vaccines are typically based on the capsular saccharide antigen (e.g. chapter 14 of ref. 1), the preparation of which is well documented (e.g. references 39 to 48). The Hib saccharide is conjugated to a carrier protein in order to enhance its immunogenicity, especially in children. Typical carrier proteins are tetanus toxoid, diphtheria toxoid, the CRM197 derivative of diphtheria toxoid, or the outer membrane protein complex from serogroup B meningococcus. Tetanus toxoid is a useful carrier, are used in the product commonly referred to as ‘PRP-T’. PRP-T can be made by activating a Hib capsular polysaccharide using cyanogen bromide, coupling the activated saccharide to an adipic acid linker (such as (1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide), typically the hydrochloride salt), and then reacting the linker-saccharide entity with a tetanus toxoid carrier protein. CRM197 is another useful carrier for Hib conjugate in compositions of the invention.

The saccharide moiety of the conjugate may comprise full-length polyribosylribitol phosphate (PRP) as prepared from Hib bacteria, and/or fragments of full-length PRP. Conjugates with a saccharide:protein ratio (w/w) of between 1:5 (i.e. excess protein) and 5:1 (i.e. excess saccharide) may be used e.g. ratios between 1:2 and 5:1 and ratios between 1:1.25 and 1:2.5. In preferred vaccines, however, the weight ratio of saccharide to carrier protein is between 1:2.5 and 1:3.5. In vaccines where tetanus toxoid is present both as an antigen and as a carrier protein then the weight ratio of saccharide to carrier protein in the conjugate may be between 1:0.3 and 1:2 [49]. Administration of the Hib conjugate preferably results in an anti-PRP antibody concentration of ≥0.15 μg/ml, and more preferably ≥1 μg/ml, and these are the standard response thresholds.

Quantities of Hib antigens are typically expressed in micrograms of saccharide. If a composition of the invention includes a Hib antigen then a normal quantity per unit dose is between 5-15 μg e.g. 10 μg or 12 μg.

If a composition includes an aluminium salt adjuvant then Hib antigen can be adsorbed onto it or can be unadsorbed.

Hepatitis B Virus Surface Antigen

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is one of the known agents which causes viral hepatitis. The HBV virion consists of an inner core surrounded by an outer protein coat or capsid, and the viral core contains the viral DNA genome. The major component of the capsid is a protein known as HBV surface antigen or, more commonly, ‘HBsAg’, which is typically a 226-amino acid polypeptide with a molecular weight of ˜24 kDa. All existing hepatitis B vaccines contain HBsAg, and when this antigen is administered to a normal vaccine if stimulates the production of anti-HBsAg antibodies which protect against HBV infection.

For vaccine manufacture, HBsAg can be made in two ways. The first method involves purifying the antigen in particular form from the plasma of chronic hepatitis B carriers, as large quantities of HBsAg are synthesized in the liver and released into the blood stream during an HBV infection. The second way involves expressing the protein by recombinant DNA methods. HBsAg for use with the method of the invention is recombinantly expressed e.g. in yeast or CHO cells. Suitable yeasts include Saccharomyces (such as S. cerevisiae) or Hanensula (such as H. polymorpha) hosts.

Unlike native HBsAg (i.e. as in the plasma-purified product), yeast-expressed HBsAg is generally non-glycosylated, and this is the most preferred form of HBsAg for use with the invention. Yeast-expressed HBsAg is highly immunogenic and can be prepared without the risk of blood product contamination.

The HBsAg will generally be in the form of substantially-spherical particles (average diameter of about 20 nm), including a lipid matrix comprising phospholipids. Yeast-expressed HBsAg particles may include phosphatidylinositol, which is not found in natural HBV virions. The particles may also include a non-toxic amount of LPS in order to stimulate the immune system [50]. The particles may retain non-ionic surfactant (e.g. polysorbate 20) if this was used during disruption of yeast [51].

A preferred method for HBsAg purification involves, after cell disruption: ultrafiltration; size exclusion chromatography; anion exchange chromatography; ultracentrifugation; desalting; and sterile filtration. Lysates may be precipitated after cell disruption (e.g. using a polyethylene glycol), leaving HBsAg in solution, ready for ultrafiltration.

After purification HBsAg may be subjected to dialysis (e.g. with cysteine), which can be used to remove any mercurial preservatives such as thimerosal that may have been used during HBsAg preparation [52]. Thimerosal-free preparation is preferred.

The HBsAg is preferably from HBV subtype adw2.

Quantities of HBsAg are typically expressed in micrograms. If a composition of the invention includes HBsAg then a normal quantity per unit dose is between 5-25 μg e.g. 10 μg or 20 μg.

If a composition includes an aluminium salt adjuvant then HBsAg can be adsorbed onto it (preferably adsorbed onto an aluminium phosphate adjuvant).

Inactivated Poliovirus Antigen (IPV)

Poliomyelitis can be caused by one of three types of poliovirus. The three types are similar and cause identical symptoms, but they are antigenically very different and infection by one type does not protect against infection by others. As explained in chapter 24 of reference 1, it is therefore preferred to use three poliovirus antigens with the invention—poliovirus Type 1 (e.g. Mahoney strain), poliovirus Type 2 (e.g. MEF-1 strain), and poliovirus Type 3 (e.g. Saukett strain). As an alternative to these strains (“Salk” strains), Sabin strains of types 1 to 3 can be used e.g. as discussed in references 53 & 54. These strains can be more potent than the normal Salk strains.

Polioviruses may be grown in cell culture. A preferred culture uses a Vero cell line, which is a continuous cell line derived from monkey kidney. Vero cells can conveniently be cultured microcarriers. Culture of the Vero cells before and during viral infection may involve the use of bovine-derived material, such as calf serum, and of lactalbumia hydrolysate (e.g. obtained by enzymatic degradation of lactalbumin). Such bovine-derived material should be obtained from sources which are free from BSE or other TSEs.

After growth, virions may be purified using techniques such as ultrafiltration, diafiltration, and chromatography. Prior to administration to patients, polioviruses must be inactivated, and this can be achieved by treatment with formaldehyde before the viruses are used in the process of the invention.

The viruses are preferably grown, purified and inactivated individually, and are then combined to give a bulk mixture for use with the invention.

Quantities of IPV are typically expressed in the ‘DU’ unit (the “D-antigen unit” [55]). Where all three of Types 1, 2 and 3 polioviruses are present the three antigens can be present at a DU ratio of 5:1:4 respectively, or at any other suitable ratio e.g. a ratio of 15:32:45 when using Sabin strains [53]. Typical amounts of Salk IPV strains per unit dose are 40 DU type 1, 8 DU type 2 and 32 DU type 3, although lower doses can also be used. A low amount of antigen from Sabin strains is particularly useful, with ≤15 DU type 1, ≤5 DU type 2, and ≤25 DU type 3 (per unit dose).

If a composition includes an aluminium salt adjuvant then IPV antigens are often not pre-adsorbed to any adjuvant before they are formulated, but after formulation they may become adsorbed onto the aluminium salt(s).

Further Antigens

Compositions of the invention include D, T, and P antigens. As mentioned above, they may also include Hib, HBsAg, and/or poliovirus antigens. Immunogenic compositions of the invention may include antigens from further pathogens. For example, these antigens may be from N. meningitidis (one or more of serogroups A, B, C, W135 and/or Y) or S. pneumoniae.

Meningococcal Saccharides

Where a composition includes a Neisseria meningitidis capsular saccharide conjugate there may be one or more than one such conjugate. Including 2, 3, or 4 of serogroups A, C, W135 and Y is typical e.g. A+C, A+W135, A+Y, C+W135, C+Y, W135+Y, A+C+W135, A+C+Y, A+W135 +Y, A+C+W135+Y, etc. Components including saccharides from all four of serogroups A, C, W135 and Y are useful, as in the MENACTRA™ and MENVEO™ products. Where conjugates from more than one serogroup are included then they may be present at substantially equal masses e.g. the mass of each serogroup's saccharide is within ±10% of each other. A typical quantity per serogroup is between 1 μg and 20 μg e.g. between 2 and 10 μg per serogroup, or about 4 μg or about 5 μg or about 10 μg. As an alternative to a substantially equal ratio, a double mass of serogroup A saccharide may be used.

Administration of a conjugate preferably results in an increase in serum bactericidal assay (SBA) titre for the relevant serogroup of at least 4-fold, and preferably at least 8-fold. SBA titres can be measured using baby rabbit complement or human complement [56].

The capsular saccharide of serogroup A meningococcus is a homopolymer of (α1→6)-linked N-acetyl-D-mannosamine-1-phosphate, with partial O-acetylation in the C3 and C4 positions. Acetylation at the C-3 position can be 70-95%. Conditions used to purify the saccharide can result in de-O-acetylation (e.g. under basic conditions), but it is useful to retain OAc at this C-3 position. In some embodiments, at least 50% (e.g. at least 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95% or more) of the mannosamine residues in a serogroup A saccharides are O-acetylated at the C-3 position. Acetyl groups can be replaced with blocking groups to prevent hydrolysis [57], and such modified saccharides are still serogroup A saccharides within the meaning of the invention.

The serogroup C capsular saccharide is a homopolymer of (α2→9)-linked sialic acid (N-acetyl neuraminic acid, or ‘NeuNAc’). The saccharide structure is written as →9)-Neu p NAc 7/8 Oac-(α2→. Most serogroup C strains have O-acetyl groups at C-7 and/or C-8 of the sialic acid residues, but about 15% of clinical isolates lack these O-acetyl groups [58,58]. The presence or absence of OAc groups generates unique epitopes, and the specificity of antibody binding to the saccharide may affect its bactericidal activity against O-acetylated (OAc−) and de-O-acetylated (OAc+) strains [60-62]. Serogroup C saccharides used with the invention may be prepared from either OAc+ or OAc− strains. Licensed MenC conjugate vaccines include both OAc− (NEISVAC-C™) and OAc+ (MENJUGATE™ & MENINGITEC™) saccharides. In some embodiments, strains for production of serogroup C conjugates are OAc+ strains, e.g. of serotype 16, serosubtype P1.7a,1, etc. Thus C:16:P1.7a,1 OAc+ strains may be used. OAc+ strains in serosubtype P1.1 are also useful, such as the C11 strain. Preferred MenC saccharides are taken from OAc+ strains, such as strain C11.

The serogroup W135 saccharide is a polymer of sialic acid-galactose disaccharide units. Like the serogroup C saccharide, it has variable O-acetylation, but at sialic acid 7 and 9 positions [63]. The structure is written as: →4)-D-Neup5Ac(7/9OAc)-α-(2→6)-D-Gal-α-(1→.

The serogroup Y saccharide is similar to the serogroup W135 saccharide, except that the disaccharide repeating unit includes glucose instead of galactose. Like serogroup W135, it has variable O-acetylation at sialic acid 7 and 9 positions [63]. The serogroup Y structure is written as: →4)-D-Neup5Ac(7/9OAc)-α-(2→6)-D-Glc-α-(1→.

The saccharides used according to the invention may be O-acetylated as described above (e.g. with the same O-acetylation pattern as seen in native capsular saccharides), or they may be partially or totally de-O-acetylated at one or more positions of the saccharide rings, or they may be hyper-O-acetylated relative to the native capsular saccharides. For example, reference 64 reports the use of serogroup Y saccharides that are more than 80% de-O-acetylated.

The saccharide moieties in meningococcal conjugates may comprise full-length saccharides as prepared from meningococci, and/or may comprise fragments of full-length saccharides i.e. the saccharides may be shorter than the native capsular saccharides seen in bacteria. The saccharides may thus be deploymerised, with depolymerisation occurring during or after saccharide purification but before conjugation. Depolymerisation reduces the chain length of the saccharides. One deploymerisation method involves the use of hydrogen peroxide [65]. Hydrogen peroxide is added to a saccharide (e.g. to give a final H2O2 concentration of 1%), and the mixture is then incubated (e.g. at about 55° C.) until a desired chain length reduction has been achieved. Another depolymerisation method involves acid hydrolysis [66]. Other depolymerisation methods are known in the art. The saccharides used to prepare conjugates for use according to the invention may be obtainable by any of these depolymerisation methods. Depolymerisation can be used in order to provide an optimum chain length for immunogenicity and/or to reduce chain length for physical manageability of the saccharides. In some embodiments, saccharides have the following range of average degrees of polymerisation (Dp): A=10-20; C=12-22; W135=15-25; Y=15-25. In terms of molecular weight, rather than Dp, useful ranges are, for all serogroups: <100 kDa; 5 kDa-75 kDa; 7 kDa-50 kDa; 8 kDa-35 kDa; 12 kDa-25 kDa; 15 kDa-22 kDa. In other embodiments, the average molecular weight for saccharides from each of meningococcal serogroups A, C, W135 and Y may be more than 50 kDa, e.g. ≥75 kDa, ≥100 kDa, ≥110 kDa, ≥120 kDa, ≥130 kDa, etc. [67], and even up to 1500 kDa, in particular as determined by MALLS. For instance: a MenA saccharide may be in the range 50-500 kDa e.g. 60-80 kDa; a MenC saccharide may be in the range 100-210 kDa; a MenW135 saccharide may be in the range 60-190 kDa e.g. 120-140 kDa; and/or a MenY saccharide may be in the range 60-190 kDa e.g. 150-160 kDa.

If a component or composition includes both Hib and meningococcal conjugates then, in some embodiments, the mass of Hib saccharide can be substantially the same as the mass of a particular meningococcal serogroup saccharide. In some embodiments, the mass of Hib saccharide will be more than (e.g. at least 1.5×) the mass of a particular meningococcal serogroup saccharide. In some embodiments, the mass of Hib saccharide will be less than (e.g. at least 1.5× less) the mass of a particular meningococcal serogroup saccharide.

Where a composition includes saccharide from more than one meningococcal serogroup, there is an mean saccharide mass per serogroup. If substantially equal masses of each serogroup are used then the mean mass will be the same as each individual mass; where non-equal masses are used then the mean will differ e.g. with a 10:5:5 μg amount for a MenACWY mixture, the mean mass is 6.25 μg per serogroup. In some embodiments, the mass of Hib saccharide will be substantially the same as the mean mass of meningococcal saccharide per serogroup. In some embodiments, the mass of Hib saccharide will be more than (e.g. at least 1.5×) the mean mass of meningococcal saccharide per serogroup. In some embodiments, the mass of Hib saccharide will be less than (e.g. at least 1.5×) the mean mass of meningococcal saccharide per serogroup [68].

Pneumococcal Saccharides

Streptococcus pneumoniae causes bacterial meningitis and existing vaccines are based on capsular saccharides. Thus compositions of the invention can include at least one pneumococcal capsular saccharide conjugated to a carrier protein.

The invention can include capsular saccharide from one or more different pneumococcal serotypes. Where a composition includes saccharide antigens from more than one serotype, these are preferably prepared separately, conjugated separately, and then combined. Methods for purifying pneumococcal capsular saccharides are known in the art (e.g. see reference 69) and vaccines based on purified saccharides from 23 different serotypes have been known for many years. Improvements to these methods have also been described e.g. for serotype 3 as described in reference 70, or for serotypes 1, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F and 19A as described in reference 71.

Pneumococcal capsular saccharide(s) will typically be selected from the following serotypes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 7F, 8, 9N, 10A, 11A, 12F, 14, 15B, 17F, 18C, 19A, 19F, 20, 22F, 23F and/or 33F. Thus, in total, a composition may include a capsular saccharide from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 or more different serotypes. Compositions which include at least serotype 6B saccharide are useful.

A useful combination of serotypes is a 7-valent combination e.g. including capsular saccharide from each of serotypes 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F. Another useful combination is a 9-valent combination e.g. including capsular saccharide from each of serotypes 1, 4, 5, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F. Another useful combination is a 10-valent combination e.g. including capsular saccharide from each of serotypes 1, 4, 5, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F. An 11-valent combination may further include saccharide from serotype 3. A 12-valent combination may add to the 10-valent mixture: serotypes 6A and 19A; 6A and 22F; 6A and 15B; 19A and 15B; or 22F and 15B. A 13-valent combination may add to the 11-valent mixture: serotypes 19A and 22F; 8 and 12F; 8 and 19A; 8 and 22F; 12F and 15B; 12F and 19A; 12F and 22F; 15B and 19A; 15B and 22F; 6A and 19A, etc.

Thus a useful 13-valent combination includes capsular saccharide from serotypes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19 (or 19A), 19F and 23F e.g. prepared as disclosed in references 72 to 75. One such combination includes serotype 6B saccharide at about 8 μg/ml and the other 12 saccharides at concentrations of about 4 μg/ml each. Another such combination includes serotype 6A and 6B saccharides at about 8 μg/ml each and the other 11 saccharides at about 4 μ/ml each.

Suitable carrier proteins for conjugates include bacterial toxins, such as diphtheria or tetanus toxins, or toxoids or mutants thereof. These are commonly used in conjugate vaccines. For example, the CRM197 diphtheria toxin mutant is useful [76]. Other suitable carrier proteins include synthetic peptides [77,78], heat shock proteins [79,80], pertussis proteins [81,82], cytokines [83], lymphokines [83], hormones [83], growth factors [83], artificial proteins comprising multiple human CD4+ T cell epitopes from various pathogen-derived antigens [84] such as N19 [85], protein D from H. influenzae [86-88], pneumolysin [89] or its non-toxic derivatives [90], pneumococcal surface protein PspA [91], iron-uptake proteins [92], toxin A or B from C. difficile [93], recombinant Pseudomonas aeruginosa exoprotein A (rEPA) [94], etc.

Particularly useful carrier proteins for pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are CRM197, tetanus toxoid, diphtheria toxoid and H. influenzae protein D. CRM197 is used in PREVNAR™. A 13-valent mixture may use CRM197 as the carrier protein for each of the 13 conjugates, and CRM197 may be present at about 55-60 μg/ml.

Where a composition includes conjugates from more than one pneumococcal serotype, it is possible to use the same carrier protein for each separate conjugate, or to use different carrier proteins. In both cases, though, a mixture of different conjugates will usually be formed by preparing each serotype conjugate separately, and then mixing them to form a mixture of separate conjugates. Reference 95 describes potential advantages when using different carrier proteins in multivalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, but the PREVNAR™ product successfully uses the same carrier for each of seven different serotypes.

A carrier protein may be covalently conjugated to a pneumococcal saccharide directly or via a linker. Various linkers are known. For example, attachment may be via a carbonyl, which may be formed by reaction of a free hydroxyl group of a modified saccharide with CDI [96,97] followed by reaction with a protein to form a carbamate linkage. Carbodiimide condensation can be used [98]. An adipic acid linker can be used, which may be formed by coupling a free —NH2 group (e.g. introduced to a saccharide by amination) with adipic acid (using, for example, diimide activation), and then coupling a protein to the resulting saccharide-adipic acid intermediate [99,100]. Other linkers include β-propionamido [101], nitrophenyl-ehtylamine [102], haloacyl halides [103], glycosidic linkages [104], 6-aminocaproic acid [105], N-succinimidyl-3-(2-pyridyldithio)-propionate (SPDP) [106], adipic acid dihydrazide ADH [107], C4 to C12 moieties [108], etc.

Conjugation via reductive amination can be used. The saccharide may first be oxidised with periodate to introduce an aldehyde group which can then form a direct covalent linkage to a carrier protein by reductive amination e.g. to a lysine's ϵ-amino group. If the saccharide includes multiple aldehyde groups per molecule then this linkage technique can lead to a cross-linked product, where multiple aldehydes react with multiple carrier amines. This cross-linking conjugation technique is particularly useful for at least pneumococcal serotypes 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F.

A pneumococcal saccharide may comprise a full-length intact saccharide as prepared from pneumococcus, and/or may comprise fragments of full-length saccharides i.e. the saccharides may be shorter than the native capsular saccharides seen in bacteria. The saccharides may thus be depolymerised, with depolymerisation occurring during or after saccharide purification but before conjugation. Depolymerisation reduces the chain length of the saccharides. Depolymerisation can be used in order to provide an optimum chain length for immunogenicity and/or to reduce chain length for physical manageability of the saccharides. Where more than one pneumococcal serotype is used then it is possible to use intact saccharides for each serotype, fragments for each serotype, or to use intact saccharides for some serotypes and fragments for other serotypes.

Where a composition includes saccharides from any of serotypes 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 19F and 23F, these saccharides are preferably intact. In contrast, where a composition includes saccharide from serotype 18C, this saccharide is preferably depolymerised.

A serotype 3 saccharide may also be depolymerised. For instance, a serotype 3 saccharide can be subjected to acid hydrolysis for depolymerisation [72] e.g. using acetic acid. The resulting fragments may then be oxidised for activation (e.g. periodate oxidation, maybe in the presence of bivalent cations e.g. with MgCl2), conjugated to a carrier (e.g. CRM197) under reducing conditions (e.g. using sodium cyanoborohydride), and then (optionally) any unreacted aldehydes in the saccharide can be capped (e.g. using sodium borohydride) [72]. Conjugation may be performed on lyophilized material e.g. after co-lyophilizing activated saccharide and carrier.

A serotype 1 saccharide may be at least partially de-O-acetylated e.g. achieved by alkaline pH buffer treatment [73] such as by using a bicarbonate/carbonate buffer. Such (partially) de-O-acetylated saccharides can be oxidised for activation (e.g. periodate oxidation), conjugated to a carrier (e.g. CRM197) under reducing conditions (e.g. using sodium cyanoborohydride), and then (optionally) any unreacted aldehydes in the saccharide can be capped (e.g. using sodium borohydride) [73]. Conjugation may be performed on lyophilized material e.g. after co-lyophilizing activated saccharide and carrier.

A serotype 19A saccharide may be oxidised for activation (e.g. periodate oxidation), conjugated to a carrier (e.g. CRM197) in DMSO under reducing conditions, and then (optionally) any unreacted aldehydes in the saccharide can be capped (e.g. using sodium borohydride) [109]. Conjugation may be performed on lyophilized material e.g. after co-lyophilizing activated saccharide and carrier.

One or more pneumococcal capsular saccharide conjugates may be present in lyophilised form.

Pneumococcal conjugates can ideally elicit anticapsular antibodies that bind to the relevant saccharide e.g. elicit an anti-saccharide antibody level≥0.20 μg/mL [110]. The antibodies may be evaluated by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and/or measurement of opsonophagocytic activity (OPA). The EIA method has been extensively validated and there is a link between antibody concentration and vaccine efficacy.

Adjuvants

Compositions of the invention can include an adjuvant, such as (i) an oil-in-water emulsion (ii) at least one aluminium salt or (iii) at least one TLR agonist.

In some embodiments a composition includes a mixture of an aluminium salt and a TLR agonist, and the TLR agonist can be adsorbed to the aluminium salt to improve adjuvant effect [142]. This can lead to a better (stronger, or more quickly achieved) immune response and/or can permit a reduction in the amount of aluminium in the composition while maintaining an equivalent adjuvant effect.

Where a composition includes aluminium salt adjuvant(s) then between one and all of the immunogens in the composition can be adsorbed to the salt(s). Moreover, if the composition includes a TLR adjuvant then this can also be adsorbed to the salt(s), as discussed below.

Where a composition includes an aluminium salt adjuvant then preferably it does not also include an oil-in-water emulsion adjuvant. Conversely, where a composition includes an oil-in-water emulsion adjuvant then preferably it does not also include an aluminium salt adjuvant.

Oil-In-Water-Emulsion Adjuvants

According to the invention's second aspect a vaccine is adjuvanted with an oil-in-water emulsion. Various such emulsions are known e.g. MF59 and AS03 are both authorised in Europe.

Useful emulsion adjuvants they typically include at least one oil and at least one surfactant, with the oil(s) and surfactant(s) being biodegradable (metabolisable) and biocompatible. The oil droplets in the emulsion generally have a sub-micron diameter, and these small sizes can readily be achieved with a microfluidiser to provide stable emulsions, or by alternative methods e.g. phase inversion. Emulsions in which at least 80% (by number) of droplets have a diameter of less than 220 nm are preferred, as they can be subjected to filter sterilization.

The emulsion can include oil(s) from an animal (such as fish) and/or vegetable source. Sources for vegetable oils include nuts, seeds and grains. Peanut oil, soybean oil, coconut oil, and olive oil, the most commonly available, exemplify the nut oils. Jojoba oil can be used e.g. obtained from the jojoba bean. Seed oils include safflower oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower seed oil, sesame seed oil and the like. In the grain group, corn oil is the most readily available, but the oil of other cereal grains such as wheat, oats, rye, rice, teff, triticale and the like may also be used. 6-10 carbon fatty acid esters of glycerol and 1,2-propanediol, while not occurring naturally in seed oils, may be prepared by hydrolysis, separation and esterification of the appropriate materials starting from the nut and seed oils. Fats and oils from mammalian milk are metabolisable and may therefore be used with the invention. The procedures for separation, purification, saponification and other means necessary for obtaining pure oils from animal sources are well known in the art.

Most fish contain metabolisable oils which may be readily recovered. For example, cod liver oil, shark liver oils, and whale oil such as spermaceti exemplify several of the fish oils which may be used herein. A number of branched chain oils are synthesized biochemically in 5-carbon isoprene units and are generally referred to as terpenoids. Shark liver oil contains a branched, unsaturated terpenoids known as squalene, 2,6,10,15,19,23-hexamethyl-2,6,10,14,18,22-tetracosahexaene, which is particularly preferred for use with the invention (see below). Squalane, the saturated analog to squalene, is also a useful oil. Fish oils, including squalene and squalane, are readily available from commercial sources or may be obtained by methods known in the art. Other preferred oils are the tocopherols (see below). Mixtures of oils can be used.

Preferred amounts of total oil (% by volume) in an adjuvant emulsion are between 1 and 20% e.g. between 2-10%. A squalene content of 5% by volume is particularly useful.

Surfactants can be classified by their ‘HLB’ (hydrophile/lipophile balance). Preferred surfactants of the invention have a HLB of at least 10 e.g. about 15. The invention can be used with surfactants including, but not limited to: the polyoxyethylene sorbitan esters surfactants (commonly referred to as the Tweens), especially polysorbate 20 or polysorbate 80; copolymers of ethylene oxide (EO), propylene oxide (PO), and/or butylene oxide (BO), sold under the DOWFAX™ tradename, such as linear EO/PO block copolymers; octoxynols, which can vary in the number of repeating ethoxy (oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) groups, with octoxynol-9 (Triton X-100, or t-octylphenoxypolyethoxyethanol) being of particular interest; (octylphenoxy)polyethoxyethanol (IGEPAL CA-630/NP-40); phospholipids such as phosphatidylcholine (lecithin); nonylphenol ethoxylates, such as the Tergitol™ NP series; polyoxyethylene fatty ethers derived from lauryl, cetyl, stearyl and oleyl alcohols (known as Brij surfactants), such as triethyleneglycol monolauryl ether (Brij 30); and sorbitan esters (commonly known as the Spans), such as sorbitan trioleate (Span 85) or sorbitan monolaurate.

Emulsions used with the invention preferably include non-ionic surfactant(s). Preferred surfactants for including in the emulsion are polysorbate 80 (polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate; Tween 80), Span 85 (sorbitan trioleate), lecithin or Triton X-100. Mixtures of surfactants can be used e.g. a mixture of polysorbate 80 and sorbitan trioleate. A combination of a polyoxyethylene sorbitan ester such as polysorbate 80 (Tween 80) and an octoxynol such as t-octylphenoxypolyethoxyethanol (Triton X-100) is also useful. Another useful combination comprises laureth 9 plus a polyoxyethylene sorbitan ester and/or an oxtoxynol. Where a mixture of surfactants is used then the HLB of the mixture is calculated according to their relative weightings (by volume) e.g. the preferred 1:1 mixture by volume of polysorbate 80 and sorbitan trioleate has a HLB of 8.4.

Preferred amounts of total surfactant (% by volume) in an adjuvant emulsion are between 0.1 and 2% e.g. between 0.25-2%. A total content of 1% by volume is particularly useful e.g. 0.5% by volume of polysorbate 80 and 0.5% by volume of sorbitan triolcate.

Useful emulsions can be prepared using known techniques e.g. see references 132 and 111-112117

Specific oil-in-water emulsion adjuvants useful with the invention include, but are not limited to:

    • A submicron emulsion of squalene, polysorbate 80, and sorbitan trioleate. The composition of the emulsion by volume can be about 5% squalene, about 0.5% polysorbate 80 and about 0.5% sorbitan trioleate. In weight terms, these ratios become 4.3% squalene, 0.5% polysorbate 80 and 0.48% sorbitan trioleate. This adjuvant is known as ‘MF59’ [118-120], as described in more detail in Chapter 10 of ref. 131 and chapter 12 of ref. 132. The MF59 emulsion advantageously includes citrate ions e.g. 10 mM sodium citrate buffer.
    • An emulsion of squalene, a tocopherol, and polysorbate 80. The emulsion may include phosphate buffered saline. These emulsions may have from 2 to 10% squalene, from 2 to 10% tocopherol and from 0.3 to 3% polysorbate 80, and the weight ratio of squalene:tocopherol is preferably ≤1 (e.g. 0.90) as this can provide a more stable emulsion. Squalene and polysorbate 80 may be present volume ratio of about 5:2, or at a weight ratio of about 11:5. Thus the three components (squalene, tocopherol, polysorbate 80) may be present at a weight ratio of 1068:1186:485 or around 55:61:25. This adjuvant is known as ‘AS03’. Another useful emulsion of this type may comprise, per human dose, 0.5-10 mg squalene, 0.5-11 mg tocopherol, and 0.1-4 mg polysorbate 80 [121] e.g. in the ratios discussed above.
    • An emulsion in which a saponin (e.g. QuilA or QS21) and a sterol (e.g. a cholesterol) are associated as helical micelles [122].
    • An emulsion having from 0.5-50% of an oil, 0.1-10% of a phospholipid, and 0.05-5% of a non-ionic surfactant. As described in reference 123, preferred phospholipid components are phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidic acid, sphingomyelin and cardiolipin. Submicron droplet sizes are advantageous.
    • An emulsion comprising squalene, an aqueous solvent, a polyoxyethylene alkyl ether hydrophilic nonionic surfactant (e.g. polyoxyethylene (12) ectostearyl ether) and a hydrophobic nonionic surfactant (e.g. a sorbitan ester or mannide ester, such as sorbitan monoleate or ‘Span 80’). The emulsion is preferably thermoreversible and/or has at least 90% of the oil droplets (by volume) with a size less than 200 nm [124]. The emulsion may also include one or more of: alditol; a cryoprotective agent (e.g. a sugar, such as dodecylmaltoside and/or sucrose); and/or an alkylpolyclycoside. It may also include a TLR4 agonist, such as one whose chemical structure does not include a sugar ring [125]. Such emulsions may be lyophilized. The ‘AF03’ product is one such emulsion.

Preferred oil-in-water emulsions used with the invention comprise squalene and polysorbate 80.

The emulsions may be mixed with TdaP antigens during vaccine manufacture, or they may be mixed exemporaneously at the time of delivery. Thus, in some embodiments, the adjuvant and antigens may be kept separately in a packaged or distributed vaccine, ready for final formulation at the time of use. At the time of mixing (whether during bulk manufacture, or at the point of use) the antigen will generally be in an aqueous form, such that the final vaccine is prepared by mixing two liquids. The volume ratio of the two liquids for mixing can vary (e.g. between 5:1 and 1:5) but is generally about 1:1. If emulsion and antigen are stored separately in a kit then the product may be presented as a vial containing emulsion and a vial containing aqueous antigen, for mixing to give adjuvanted liquid vaccine (monodose or multi-dose).

Preferred emulsions of the invention include squalene oil. This is usually prepared from shark oil but alternative sources are known e.g. see references 126 (yeast) and 127 (olive oil). Squalene which contains less than 661 picograms of PCBs per gram of squalene (TEQ) is preferred for use with the invention, as disclosed in reference 128. The emulsions are preferably made from squalene of high purity e.g. prepared by double-distillation as disclosed in reference 129.

Where a composition includes a tocopherol, any of the α, β, γ, δ, ϵ or ξ tocopherols can be used, but α-tocopherols are preferred. The tocopherol can take several forms e.g. different salts and/or isomers. Salts include organic salts, such as succinate, acetate, nicotinate, etc. D-α-tocopherol and DL-α-tocopherol can both be used. Tocopherols have antioxidant properties that may help to stabilize the emulsions [130]. A preferred α-tocopherol is DL-α-tocopherol, and a preferred salt of this tocopherol is the succinate.

Aluminium Salt Adjuvants

Compositions of the invention can include an aluminium salt adjuvant. Aluminium salt adjuvants currently in use are typically referred to either as “aluminium hydroxide” or as “aluminium phosphate” adjuvants. These are names of convenience, however, as neither is a precise description of the acetal chemical compound which is present (e.g. see chapter 9 of reference 131, and chapter 4 of reference 132). The invention can use any of the “hydroxide” or “phosphate” salts that useful as adjuvants. Aluminium salts which include hydroxide ions are preferred if adsorption of a TLR agonist is desired as these hydroxide ions can readily undergo ligand exchange for adsorption of the TLR agonist. Thus preferred salts for adsorption of TLR agonists are aluminium hydroxide and/or aluminium hydroxyphosphate. These have surface hydroxyl moieties which can readily undergo ligand exchange with phosphorus-containing groups (e.g. phosphates, phosphonates) to provide stable adsorption. An aluminium hydroxide adjuvant is thus most preferred.

The adjuvants known as “aluminium hydroxide” are typically aluminium oxyhydroxide salts, which are usually at least partially crystalline. Aluminium oxyhydroxide, which can be represented by the formula AlO(OH), can be distinguished from other aluminium compounds, such as aluminium hydroxide Al(OH)3, by infrared (IR) spectroscopy, in particular by the presence of an adsorption band at 1070 cm−1 and a strong shoulder at 3090-3100 cm−1 (chapter 9 of ref. 131). The degree of crystallinity of an aluminium hydroxide adjuvant is reflected by the width of the diffraction band at half height (WHH), with poorly-crystalline particles showing greater line broadening due to smaller crystallite sizes. The surface area increases as WHH increases, and adjuvants with higher WHH values have been seen to have greater capacity for antigen adsorption. A fibrous morphology (e.g. as seen in transmission electron micrographs) is typical for aluminium hydroxide adjuvants e.g. with needle-like particles with diameters about 2 nm. The PZC of aluminium hydroxide adjuvants is typically about 11 i.e. the adjuvant itself has a positive surface charge at physiological pH. Adsorptive capacities of between 1.8-2.6 mg protein per mg Al+++ at pH 7.4 have been reported for aluminium hydroxide adjuvants.

The adjuvants known as “aluminium phosphate” are typically aluminium hydroxyphosphates, often also containing a small amount of sulfate. They may be obtained by precipitation, and the reaction conditions and concentrations during precipitation influence the degree of substitution of phosphate for hydroxyl in the salt. Hydroxyphosphates generally have a POA4/Al molar ratio between 0.3 and 0.99. Hydroxyphosphates can be distinguished from strict AlPO4 by the presence of hydroxyl groups. For example, an IR spectrum band at 3164 cm−1 (e.g. when heated to 200° C.) indicates the presence of structural hydroxyls (chapter 9 of ref. 131).

The PO4/Al3+ molar ratio of an aluminium phosphate adjuvant will generally be between 0.3 and 1.2, preferably between 0.8 and 1.2, and more preferably 0.95±0.1. The aluminium phosphate will generally be amorphous, particularly for hydroxyphosphate salts. A typical adjuvant is amorphous aluminium hydroxyphosphate with PO4/Al molar ratio between 0.84 and 0.92, included at 0.6 mg Al3+/ml. The aluminium phosphate will generally be particulate. Typical diameters of the particles are in the range 0.5-20 μm (e.g. about 5-10 μm) after any antigen adsorption. Adsorptive capacities of between 0.7-1.5 mg protein per mg Al+++ at pH 7.4 have been reported for aluminium phosphate adjuvants.

The PZC of aluminium phosphate is inversely related to the degree of substitution of phosphate for hydroxyl, and this degree of substitution can vary depending on reaction conditions and concentration of reactants used for preparing the salt by precipitation. PZC is also altered by changing the concentration of free phosphate ions in solution (more phosphate=more acidic PZC) or by adding a buffer such as a histidine buffer (makes PZC more basic). Aluminium phosphates used according to the invention will generally have a PZC of between 4.0 and 7.0, more preferably between 5.0 and 6.5 e.g. about 5.7.

In solution both aluminium phosphate and hydroxide adjuvants tend to form stable porous aggregates 1-10 μm in diameter [133].

A composition can include a mixture of both an aluminium hydroxide and an aluminium phosphate, and components may be adsorbed to one or both of these salts.

An aluminium phosphate solution used to prepare a composition of the invention may contain a buffer (e.g. a phosphate or a histidine or a Tris buffer), but this is not always necessary. The aluminium phosphate solution is preferably sterile and pyrogen-free. The aluminium phosphate solution may include free aqueous phosphate ions e.g. present at a concentration between 1.0 and 20 mM, preferably between 5 and 15 mM, and more preferably about 10 mM. The aluminium phosphate solution may also comprise sodium chloride. The concentration of sodium chloride is preferably in the range of 0.1 to 100 mg/ml (e.g. 0.5-50 mg/ml, 1-20 mg/ml, 2-10 mg/ml) and is more preferably about 3±1 mg/ml. The presence of NaCl facilities the correct measurement of pH prior to adsorption of antigens.

A composition of the invention ideally includes less than 0.85 mg Al+++ per unit dose. In some embodiments of the invention a composition includes less than 0.5 mg Al+++ per unit dose. The amount of Al+++ can be lower than this e.g. <250 μg, <200 μg, <150 μg, <100 μg, <75 μg, <50 μg, <25 μg, <10 μg, etc.

Where compositions of the invention include an aluminium-based adjuvant, settling of components may occur during storage. The composition should therefore be shaken prior to administration to a patient. The shaken composition will be a turbid white suspension.

If a TLR agonist and an aluminium salt are both present, in general the weight ratio of the TLR agonist to Al+++ will be less than 5:1 e.g. less than 4:1, less than 3:1, less than 2:1, or less than 1:1. Thus, for example, with an Al+++ concentration of 0.5 mg/ml the maximum concentration of TLR agonist would be 2.5 mg/ml. But higher or lower levels can be used. A lower mass of TLR agonist than of Al+++ can be most typical e.g. per dose, 100 μg of TLR agonist with 0.2 mg Al+++, etc. For instance, the FENDRIX™ product includes 50 μg of 3d-MPL and 0.5 mg Al+++ per dose.

TLR Agonists

In some embodiments a composition of the invention includes a TLR agonist i.e. a compound which can agonise a Toll-like receptor. Most preferably, a TLR agonist is an agonist of a human TLR. The TLR agonist can activate any of TLR1, TLR2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR5, TLR6, TLR7, TLR8, TLR9 or TLR11; preferably it can activate human TLR4 or human TLR7.

Agonist activity of a compound against any particular Toll-like receptor can be determined by standard assays. Companies such as Imgenex and Invivogen supply cell lines which are stably co-transfected with human TLR gens and NFκB, plus suitable reporter genes, for measuring TLR activation pathways. They are designed for sensitivity, broad working range dynamics and can be used for high-throughput screening. Constitutive expression of one or two specific TLRs is typical in such cell lines. See also reference 134. Many TLR agonists are known in the art e.g. reference 135 describes certain lipopeptide molecules that are TLR2 agonists, references 136 to 139 each describe classes of small molecule agonists of TLR7, and references 140 & 141 describe TLR7 and TLR8 agonists for treatment of diseases.

A TLR agonist used with the invention ideally includes at least one adsorptive moiety. The inclusion of such moieties in TLR agonists allows them to adsorb to insoluble aluminium salts (e.g. by ligand exchange or any other suitable mechanism) and improves their immunological behaviour [142]. Phosphorus-containing adsorptive moieties are particularly useful, and so an adsorptive moiety may comprise a phosphate, a phosphonate, a phosphinate, a phophonite, a phosphinite, etc.

Preferably the TLR agonist includes at least one phosphonate group.

Thus, in preferred embodiments, a composition of the invention includes a TLR agonist (such as a TLR7 agonist) which includes a phosphonate group. This phosphonate group can allow adsorption of the agonist to an insoluble aluminium salt [142].

TLR agonists useful with the invention may include a single adsorptive moiety, or may include more than one e.g. between 2 and 15 adsorptive moieties. Typically a compound will include 1, 2, or 3 adsorptive moieties.

Phosphorus-containing TLR agonists useful with the invention can be represented by formula (A1):

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wherein:

    • RX and RY are independently selected from H and C1-C6 alkyl;
    • X is selected from a covalent bond, O and NH;
    • Y is selected from a covalent bond, O, C(O), S and NH;
    • L is a linker e.g. selected from, C1-C6alkylene, C1-C6alkenylene, arylene, heteroarylene, C1-C6alkyleneoxy and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2;
    • each p is independently selected from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6;
    • q is selected from 1, 2, 3 and 4;
    • n is selected from 1, 2 and 3; and
    • A is a TLR agonist moiety.

In one embodiment, the TLR agonist according to formula (Al) is as follows: RX and RY are H; X is O; L is selected from C1-C6 alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 2 halogen atoms; p is selected from 1, 2 and 3; q is selected from 1 and 2; and n is 1. Thus in these embodiments the adsorptive moiety comprises a phosphate group.

In other embodiments, the TLR agonist according to formula (A1) is as follows: RX and RY are H: X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6 alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 2 halogen atoms; p is selected from 1, 2 or 3; q is selected from 1 or 2; and n is 1. Thus in these embodiments the adsorptive moiety comprises a phosphonate group.

Useful ‘A’ moieties for formula (A1) include, but are not limited to, radicals of any of the following compounds, defined herein or as disclosed in references 136, 137, 139, 140, 142 & 177:

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In some embodiments, the TLR agonist moiety ‘A’ has a molecular weight of less than 1000 Da. In some embodiments, the TLR agonist of formula (A1) has a molecular weight of less than 1000 Da.

Preferred TLR agonists are water-soluble. Thus they can form a homogenous solution when mixed in an aqueous buffer with water at pH 7 at 25° C. and 1 atmosphere pressure to give a solution which has a concentration of at least 50 μg/ml. The term “water-soluble” thus excludes substances that are only sparingly soluble under these conditions.

Useful TLR agonists include those having formula (C), (D), (E), (F), (G), (H), (I), (II), (J), or (K) as described in more detail below. Other useful TLR agonists are compounds 1 to 102 as defined in reference 142. Preferred TLR7 agonists have formula (K), such as compound K2 identified below. These can be used as salts e.g. the arginine salt of K2.

Preferred TLR4 agonists are analogs of monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL), as described in more detail below. For instance, a useful TLR4 agonist is a 3d-MPL.

A composition of the invention can include more than one TLR agonist. These two agonists are different from each other and they can target the same TLR or different TLRs. Both agonists can be adsorbed to an aluminium salt.

It is preferred that at least 50% (by mass) of any TLR agonist(s) in the composition is adsorbed to an aluminium salt (if present) e.g. ≥60%, ≥70%, ≥80%, ≥85%, ≥90%, ≥92%, ≥94%, ≥95%, ≥96%, ≥97%, ≥98%, ≥99%, or even 100%.

Where a composition of the invention includes a TLR agonist adsorbed to a metal salt, and also includes a buffer, it is preferred that the concentration of any phosphate ions in the buffer should be less than 50 mM (e.g. between 1-15 mM) as a high concentration of phosphate ions can cause desorption. Use of a histidine buffer is preferred.

Formulae (C), (D), (E) and (H)—TLR7 Agonists

The TLR agonists can be a compound according to any of formulae (C), (D), (E), and (H):

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wherein:

    • (a) P3 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, CF3, and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)pOs— and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX) (ORY); and P4 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, —C1-C6alkylaryl and —Y—L—X—P(O)(ORX) (ORY); with the proviso that at least one of P3 and P4 is —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY),
    • (b) P5 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); P6 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl each optionally substituted with 1 to 3 substituents selected from C1-C4alkyl and OH, and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); and P7 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)pOs—, —NHC1—C6alkyl and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); with the proviso that at least one of P5, P6 and P7 is —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY);
    • (c) P8 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6alkoxy, —NHC1-C6alkyl each optionally substituted with OH, and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); and P9 and P10 are each independently selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6alkoxy, —NHC1-C6alkyl each optionally substituted with OH and C1-C6alkyl, and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); with the proviso that at least one of P8, P9 or P10 is —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY);
    • (d) P16 and each P18 are each independently selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); P17 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, aryl, heteroaryl, C1-C6alkylaryl, C1-C6alkyl heteroaryl, C1-C6alkylaryl-Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY) and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY), each optionally substituted with 1 to 2 substituents selected from C1-C6alkyl or heterocyclyl with the proviso that at least one of P16 P17 or a P18 contains a —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY) moiety;
    • RX and RY are independently selected from H and C1-C6alkyl;
    • RC, RD and RH are independently selected from H and C1-C6alkyl;
    • XC is selected from CH and N;
    • RE is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6alkoxy, C(O)C1-C6alkyl, halogen and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p—;
    • XE is selected from a covalent bond, CrE2RE3 and NRE4;
    • RE2, RE3 and RE4 are independently selected from H and C1-C6alkyl;
    • XH1—XH2 is selected from —CRH2RH3—, —CRH2RH3—CRH2RH3—, —C(O)CRH2RH3—, —C(O)CRH2RH3—, —CRH2RH3C(O)—, —NRH4C(O)—, C(O)NRH4—, CRH2RH3S(O)2 and —CRH2═CRH2—;
    • RH2, RH3 and RH4 are each independently selected from H, C1-C6alkyl and P18;
    • XH3 is selected from N and CN;
    • X is selected from a covalent bond, O and NH;
    • Y is selected from a covalent bond, O, C(O), S and NH;
    • L is selected from, a covalent bond C1-C6alkylene, C1-C6alkenylene, arylene, heteroarylene, C1-C6alkyleneoxy and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2;
    • m is selected from 0 or 1;
    • each p is independently selected from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6;
    • q is selected from 1, 2, 3 and 4; and
    • s is selected from 0 and 1.

Formula (G)—TLR8 Agonist

The TLR agonist can be a compound according to formula (G):

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wherein:

    • P11 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6 alkoxy, NRVRW and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY);
    • P12 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, aryl optionally substituted by —C(O)NRVRW, and —Y-L-X—P(O) (ORX)(ORY);
    • P13, P14 and P15 are independently selected from H, C1-alkyl, C1-C6 alkoxy and —Y-L-X—P(O) (ORX)(ORY);
    • with the proviso that at least one of P11, P12, P13, P14 or P15 is —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY);

RV and RW are independently selected from H, C1-C6alkyl or together with the nitrogen atom to which they are attached form a 4 to 7 remembered heterocyclic ring;

    • XG is selected from C, CH and N;
    • custom-character represents an optional double bond, wherein XG in C if custom-character is a double bond; and
    • RG is selected from H and C1-C6alkyl;
    • X is selected from a covalent bond, O and NH;
    • Y is selected from a covalent bond, O, C(O), S and NH;
    • L is selected from, a covalent bond C1-C6alkylene, C1-C6alkenylene, arylene, heteroarylene, C1-C6alkyleneoxy and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2;
    • each p is independently selected from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and
    • q is selected from 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Formulae (I) and (II)—TLR7 Agonists [137]

The TLR agonist can be a compound according to formula (I) or formula (II):

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wherein:

    • Z is —NH2 or —OH;
    • X1 is alkylene, substituted alkylene, alkenylene, substituted alkenylene, alkynylene, substituted alkynylene, carbocyclylene, substituted carbocyclylene, heterocyclylene, or substituted heterocyclyclene;
    • L1 is a covalent bond, arylene, substituted arylene, heterocyclylene, substituted heterocyclylene, carbocyclylene, substituted carbocyclylene, —S—, —S(O)—, S(O)2, —NR5—, or —O—
    • X2 is a covalent bond, alkylene, or substituted alkylene;
    • L2 is NR5—, —N(R5)C(O)—, —O—, —S—, —S(O)—, S(O)2, or a covalent bond;
    • R3 is H, alkyl, substituted alkyl, heteroalkyl, substituted heteroalkyl, alkenyl, substituted alkenyl, aryl, substituted aryl, arylalkyl, substituted arylalkyl, heterocyclyl, substituted heterocyclyl, heterocyclylalkyl, or substituted heterocyclylalkyl;
    • Y1 and Y2 are each independently a covalent bond, —O— or —NR5—; or —Y1—R1 and —Y2—R2 are each independently —O—N═C(R6R7);
    • R1 and R2 are each independently H, alkyl, substituted alkyl, carbocyclyl, substituted carbocyclyl, heterocyclyl, substituted heterocyclyl, alkenyl, substituted alkenyl, alkynyl, substituted alkynyl, arylalkyl, substituted arylalkyl, heterocyclylalkyl, substituted heterocyclylalkyl, -alkylene-C(O)—R5, -(substituted alkylene)-C(O)—O—R5, -alkylene-O—C(O)—R5, -(substituted alkylene)-O—C(O)—R5, -alkylene-O—C(O)—O—R5, or -(substituted alkylene)-O—C(O)—O—R5
    • R4 is H, halogen, —OH, —O-alkyl, —O-alkylene-O—C(O)—O—R5, —O—C(O)—O—R5, —SH, or —NH(R5);
    • each R5, R6, and R7 are independently H, alkyl, substituted alkyl, carbocyclyl, substituted carbocyclyl, heterocyclyl, substituted heterocyclyl, alkenyl, substituted alkenyl, alkynyl, substituted alkynyl, arylalkyl, substituted arylalkyl, heterocyclylalkyl, or substituted heterocyclylalkyl.

Formula (J)—TLR2 Agonists [143]

The TLR agonist can be a compound according to formula (J):

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wherein:

    • R1 is H, —C(O)—C7-C18alkyl or —C(O)—C1-C6alkyl;
    • R2 is C7-C18alkyl;
    • R3 is C7-C18alkyl;
    • L1 is —CH2OC(O)—, —CH2O—, —CH2NR7C(O)— or —CH2OC(O)NR7—;
    • L2 is —OC(O)—, —O—, —NR7C(O)— or —OC(O)NR7—;
    • R4 is -L3R5 or -L4R5;
    • R5 is —N(R7)2, —OR7, —P(O)(OR7)2, —C(O)OR7, —NR7C(O)L3R8, —NR7C(O)L4R8, —OL3R6, —C(O)NR7L3R8, —C(O)NR7L4R8, —S(O)2OR7, —OR(O)2OR7, C1-C6alkyl, a C6aryl, a C10aryl, a C14aryl, 5 to 14 membered heteroaryl containing 1 to 3 heteroatoms selected from O, S and N, C3-C8cycloalkyl or a 5 to 6 ring membered heterocycloalkyl containing 1 to 3 heteroatoms selected from O, S and N, wherein the aryl, heteroaryl, cycloalkyl and heterocycloalkyl of R5 are each unsubstituted or the aryl, heteroaryl, cycloalkyl and heterocycloalkyl of R5 are each substituted with 1 to 3 substituents independently selected from —OR9, —OL3R6, —OL4R6, —OR7, and —C(O)OR7;
    • L3 is a C1-C10alkylene, wherein the C1-C10alkylene of L3 is unsubstituted, or the C1-C10alkylene of L3 is substituted with 1 to 4 R6 groups, or the C1-C10alkylene of L3 is substituted with 2 C1-C6alkyl groups on the same carbon atom which together, along with the carbon atom they are attached to, form a C3-C8cycloakyl;
    • L4 is —((CR7R7)pO)q(CR10R10)p— or —(CR11R11)((CR7R7)pO)q(CR10R10)p—, wherein each R11 is a C1-C6alkyl groups which together, along with the carbon atom they are attached to, form a C3-C8cycloakyl;
    • each R6 is independently selected from halo, C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6alkyl substituted with 1-2 hydroxyl groups, —OR7, —N(R7)2, —C(O)OH, —C(O)N(R7)2, —P(O)(OR7)2, a C6aryl, a C10aryl and a C14aryl;
    • each R7 is independently selected from H and C1-C6alkyl;
    • R8 is selected from —SR7, —C(O)OH, —P(O)(OR7)2, and a 5 to 6 ring membered heterocycloalkyl containing 1 to 3 heteroatoms selected from O and N;
    • R9 is phenyl;
    • each R10 is independently selected from H and halo;
    • each p is independently selected from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6, and
    • q is 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Preferably R5 is P(O)(OR7)2, —NR7C(O)L3-P(O)(OR7)2, —NR7C(O)L4-P(O)(OR7)2, —OL3-P (O)(OR7)2, —C(O)NR7L3-P(O)(OR7)2, or —C(O)NR7L4-P(O)(OR7)2.

In some embodiments of (J), R1 is H. In other embodiments of (J), R1 is —C(O)—C15alkyl;

In some embodiments of (J): (i) L1 is —CH2OC(O)— and L2 is —OC(O)—, —O—, —NR7C(O)— or —OC(O)NR7—; or (ii) or L1 is —CH2O— and L2 is —OC(O)—, —O—, —NR7C(O)— or —OC(O)NR7—; or (iii)

L1 is —CH2NR7C(O)— and L2 is —OC(O)—, —O—, —NR7C(O)— or —OC(O)NR7—; or (iv) L1 is —CH2OC(O)NR7— and L2 is —OC(O)—, —O—, NR7C(O)— —OC(O)NR7—.

In some embodiments of (J): (i) R2 is —C11alkyl and R3 is —C11alkyl; or (ii) R2 is —C16alkyl and R3 is —C16alkyl; or (iii) R2 is —C16alkyl and R3 is —C11alkyl; or (iv) R2 is —C12alkyl and R3 is —C12alkyl; or (v) R2 is —C7alkyl and R3 is —C7alkyl; or (vi) R2 is —C9alkyl and R3 is —C9alkyl; or (vii) R2 is —C8alkyl and R3 is —C8alkyl; or (viii) R2 is —C13alkyl and R3 is —C13alkyl; or (ix) R2 is —C12alkyl and R3 is —C11alkyl; or (x) R2 is —C12alkyl and R3 is —C12alkyl; or (xi) R2 is —C10alkyl and R3 is —C10alkyl; or (xii) R2 is —C15alkyl and R3 is —C15alkyl.

In some embodiments of (J), R2 is —C11alkyl and R3 is —C11alkyl.

In some embodiments of (J), L3 is a C1-C10alkylene, wherein the C1-C10alkylene of L3 is unsubstituted or is substituted with 1 to 4 R6 groups.

In some embodiments of (J): L4 is —((CR7R7)pO)q(CR10R10)p—: each R10 is independently selected from H and F; and each p is independently selected from 2, 3, and 4.

In some embodiments of (J), each R6 is independently selected from methyl, ethyl, i-propyl, i-butyl, —CH2OH, —OH, —F, —NH2, —C(O)OH, —C(O)NH2, —P(O)(OH)2 and phenyl.

In some embodiments of (J), each R7 is independently selected from H, methyl and ethyl.

TLR4 Agonists

Compositions of the invention can include a TLR4 agonist, and most preferably an agonist of human TLR4. TLR4 is expressed by cells of the innate immune system, including conventional dendritic cells and macrophages [144]. Triggering via TLR4 induces a signalling cascade that utilizes both the MyD88- and TRIF-dependent pathways, leading to NF-κB and IRF3/7 activation, respectively. TLR4 activation typically induces robust IL-12p70 production and strongly enhances Th1-type cellular and humoral immune responses.

Various useful TLR4 agonists are known in the art, many of which are analogs of endotoxin or lipopolysaccharide (LPS). For instance, the TLR4 agonist can be:

    • (i) 3d-MPL (i.e. 3-O-deacylated monophosphoryl lipid A; also known as 3-de-O-acylated monophosphoryl lipid A or 3O-desacyl-4′-monophosphoryl lipid A). This derivative of the monophosphoryl lipid A portion of endotoxin has a de-acylated position 3 of the reducing end of glucosamine. It has been prepared from a heptoseless mutant of Salmonella minnesota, and is chemically similar to lipid A but lacks an acid-labile phosphoryl group and a base-labile acyl group. Preparation of 3d-MPL was originally described in ref. 145, and the product has been manufactured and sold by Corixa Corporation. It is present in GSK's ‘AS04’ adjuvant. Further details can be found in references 146 to 149.

(ii) glucopyranosyl lipid A (GLA) [150] or its ammonium salt:

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(iii) an aminoalkyl glucosaminide phosphate, such as RC-529 or CRX-524 [151-153]. RC-529 and CRX-524 have the following structure, differing by their R2 groups:

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(iv) compounds containing lipids linked to a phosphate-containing acyclic backbone, such as the TLR4 antagonist E5564 [154,155]:

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(v) A compound of formula I, II or III as defined in reference 156, or a salt thereof, such as compounds ‘ER 803058’, ‘ER 803732’, ‘ER 804053’, ‘ER 804058’, ‘ER 804059’, ‘ER 804442’, ‘ER 804680’, ‘ER 803022’, ‘ER 804764’ or ‘ER 804057’, ER 804057 is also known as E6020 and it has the following structure:

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whereas ER 803022 has the following structure:

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(vi) One of the polypeptide ligands disclosed in reference 157.

Any of these TLR4 agonists can be used with the invention.

A composition of the invention can include an aluminium salt to which the TLR4 agonist is adsorbed. TLR4 agonists with adsorptive properties typically include a phosphorus-containing moiety which can undergo ligand exchange with surface groups on an aluminium salt, and particularly with a slat having surface hydroxide groups. Thus a useful TLR4 agonist may include a phosphate, a phosphonate, a phosphinate, a phosphonite, a phosphinite, a phosphate, etc. Preferred TLR4 agonists include at least one phosphate group [142] e.g. the agonists (i) to (v) listed above.

The preferred TLR4 agonist for use with the invention is 3d-MPL. This can be adsorbed to an aluminium phosphate adjuvant, to an aluminium hydroxide adjuvant, or to a mixture of both [158].

3d-MPL can take the form of a mixture of related molecules, varying by their acylation (e.g. having 3, 4, 5 or 6 acyl chains, which may be of different lengths). The two glucosamine (also known as 2-deoxy-2-amino-glucose) monosaccharides are N-acylated at their 2-position carbons (i.e. at positions 2 and 2′), and there is also O-acylation at the 3′ position. The group attached to carbon 2 has formula —NH—CO—CH2—CR1R1. The group attached to carbon 2′ has formula —NH—CO—CH2—CR2R2. The group attached to carbon 3′ has formula —O—CO—CH2—CR3R3. A representative structure is:

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Groups R1, R2 and R3 are each independently —(CD2)n—CH3. The value of n is preferably between 8 and 16, more preferably between 9 and 12, and is most preferably 10.

Groups R1′, R2′ and R3′ can each independently be: (a) —H; (b) —OH; or (c) —O—CO—R4, where R4 is either —H or —(CH2)m—CH3, wherein the value of m is preferably between 8 and 16, and is more preferably 10, 12 or 14. At the 2 position, m is preferably 14. At the 2′ position, m is preferably 10. At the 3′ position, m is preferably 12. Groups R1′, R2′ and R3′ are thus preferably —O-acyl groups from dodecanoic acid, tetradecanoic acid or hexadecanoic acid.

When all of R1′, R2′ and R3′ are —H then the 3d-MPL has only 3 acyl chains (one on each of positions 2, 2′ and 3′). When only two of R1′, R2′ and R3′ are —H then the 3d-MPL can have 4 acyl chains. When only one of R1′, R2′ and R3′ is —H then the 3d-MPL can have 5 acyl chains. When none of R1′, R2′ and R3′ is —H then the 3d-MPL can have 6 acyl chains. The 3d-MPL used according to the invention can be a mixture of these forms, with from 3 to 6 acyl chains, but it is preferred to include 3d-MPL with 6 acyl chains in the mixture, and in particular to ensure that the 6 acyl chain form makes up at least 10% by weight of the total 3d-MPL e.g. ≥20%, ≥30%, ≥40%, ≥50% or more. 3d-MPL with 6 acyl chains has been found to be the most adjuvant-active form.

Thus the most preferred form of 3d-MPL for use with the invention is:

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Where 3d-MPL is used in the form of a mixture then references to amounts or concentrations of 3d-MPL in composition of the invention refer to the combined 3d-MPL species in the mixture.

Typical compositions include 3d-MPL at a concentration of between 25 μg/ml and 200 μg/ml e.g. in the range 50-150 μg/ml, 75-125 μg/ml, 90-110 μg/ml, or about 100 μg/ml. It is usual to administer between 25-75 μg of 3d-MPL per dose e.g. between 45-55 μg, or about 50 μg 3d-MPL per dose.

In aqueous conditions, 3d-MPL can form micellar aggregates or particles with different sizes e.g. with a diameter <150 nm or >500 nm. Either or both of these can be used with the invention, and the better particles can be selected by routine assay. Smaller particles (e.g. small enough to give a clear aqueous suspension of 3d-MPL) are preferred for use according to the invention because of their superior activity [159]. Preferred particles have a mean diameter less than 150 nm, more preferably less than 120 nm, and can even have a mean diameter less than 100 nm. In most cases, however, the mean diameter will not be lower than 50 nm. Where 3d-MPL is adsorbed to an aluminum salt then it may not be possible to measure the 3D-MPL particle size directly, but particle size can be measured before adsorption takes place. Particle diameter can be assessed by the routine technique of dynamic light scattering, which reveals a mean particle diameter. Where a particle is said to have a diameter of x nm, there will generally be a distribution of particles about this means, but at least 50% by number (e.g. ≥60%, ≥70%, ≥80%, ≥90%, or more) of the particles will have a diameter within the range x±25%.

Formula (K) [160]

The TLR agonist can be a compound according to formula (K):

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wherein

    • R1 is H, C1-C6alkyl, —C(R5)2OH, -L1R5, -L1R6, -L2R5, -L2R6, —OL2R5, or —OL2R6;
    • L1 is —C(O)— or —O—;
    • L2 is C1-C6alkylene, C2-C6alkenylene, arylene, heteroarylene or —((CR4R4)pO)q(CH2)p, wherein the C1-C6alkylene and C2-C6alkenylene of L2 are optionally substituted with 1 to 4 fluoro groups;
    • each L3 is independently selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CR4R4)pO)q(CH2)p—, wherein the C1-C6alkylene of L3 is optionally substituted with 1 to 4 fluoro groups;
    • L4 is arylene or heteroarylene;
    • R2 is H, or C1-C6alkyl;
    • R3 is selected from C1-C4alkyl, -L3R5, -L3R7, -L3L4L3R7, -L3L4R5, —L3L4L3R5, —OL3R5, —OL3R7, —OL3L4R7, —OL3L4L3R7, —OR8, —OL3L4R5, —OL3L4L3R5 and —C(R5)2OH;
    • each R4 is independently selected from H and fluoro;
    • R5 is —P(O)(OR9)2,
    • R6 is —CF2P(O)(OR9)2 or —C(O)OR10;
    • R7 is —CF2P(O)(OR9)2 or —C(O)OR10;
    • R8 is H or C1-C4alkyl;
    • each R9 is independently selected from H and C1-C6alkyl;
    • R10 is H or C1-C4alkyl;
    • each p is independently selected from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and
    • q is 1, 3, 3 or 4.

The compound of formula (K) is preferably of formula (K′):

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wherein:

    • P1 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl optionally substituted with COOH and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY);
    • P2 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6alkoxy and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY);
    • with the proviso that at least one of P1 and P2 is —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY);
    • R8 is selected from H and C1-C6alkyl;
    • RX and RY are independently selected from H and C1-C6alkyl;
    • X is selected from a covalent bond, O and NH;
    • Y is selected from a covalent bond, O, C(O), S and NH;
    • L is selected from, a covalent bond C1-C6alkylene, C1-C6alkenylene, arylene, heteroarylene, C1-C6alkyleneoxy and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2;
    • each p is independently selected from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6; and
    • q is selected from 1, 2, 3 and 4.

In some embodiments of formula (K′): P1 is selected from C1-C6alkyl optionally substituted with COOH —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); P2 is selected from C1-C6alkoxy and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); RB is C1-C6alkyl; X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; q is selected from 1 and 2.

A preferred TLR7 agonist of formula K is 3-(5-amino-2-(2-methyl-4-(2-(2-(2-phosphonoethoxy)ethoxy)phenethyl)benzo [f]-[1,7]naphthyridin-8-yl)propanoic acid, referred to herein as compound “K2”:

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The K2 compound can also be used as an arginine salt monohydrate.

Formula (F)—TLR7 Agonists [138]

The TLR agonist can be a compound according to formula (F):

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wherein:

    • X3 is N;
    • X4 is N or CR3
    • X5 is —CR4═CR5—;
    • R1 and R2 are H;
    • R3 is H;
    • R4 and R5 are each independently selected from H, halogen, —C(O)OR7, —C(OR)R7, —C(O)N(R11R12), —N(R11r12), —N(R9)2 —NHN(R9)2, —SR7, —(CH2)nOR7, —(CH1)nR7, -LR8, -LR10, —OLR8, —OLR19, C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6heteroalkyl, C1-C6haloalkyl, C2-C8alkene, C1-C6alkoxy, C1-C6haloalkoxy, aryl, heteroaryl, C3-C8cycloalkyl, and C3-C8heterocycloalkyl, wherein the C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6heteroalkyl, C1-C6haloalkyl, C2-C8alkene, C2-C8alkyne, C1-C6alkoxy, C1-C6haloalkoxy, aryl, heteroaryl, C3-C8cycloalkyl, and C3-C8heterocycloalkyl groups of R4 and R5 are each optionally substituted with 1 to 3 substituents independently selected from halogen, —CN, —NO2, —R7, —OR8, —C(O)R8, —OC(O)R8, —C(O)OR8, —N(R9)2, —P(O)(OR8)2, —OP(O)(OR8)2, —P(O)(OR10)2, —OP(O)(OR10)2, —C(O)n(R9)2, —S(O)2R8, —S(O)R8, —S(O)2N(R9)2, and —NR9S(O)2R8;
    • or, R3 and R4, or R4 and R5, or R5 and R6, when present on adjacent ring atoms, can optionally be linked together to form a 5-6 membered ring, wherein the 5-6 membered ring is optionally substituted with R7;
    • each L is independently selected from a bond, —(O)(CH2)m)t—, C1-C6alkyl, C2-C6alkenylene and C2-C6alkynylene, wherein the C1-C6alkyl, C2-C6alkenylene and C2-C6alkynylene of L are each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halogen, —R8, —OR8, —N(R9)2, —P(O)(OR8)2, —OP(O)(OR8)2, —P(O)(OR10)2, and —OP(O)(OR10)2;
    • R7 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, aryl, heteroaryl, C3-C8cycloalkyl, C1- C6heteroalkyl, C1-C6haloalkyl, C2-C8alkene, C2-C8alkyne, C1-C6alkoxy, C1-C6haloalkoxy, and C3-C8heterocycloalkyl, wherein the C1- C6alkyl, aryl, heteroaryl, C3- C8cycloalkyl, C1-C6heteroalkyl, C1-C6haloalkyl, C2-C8alkene, C2-C8alkyne, C1-C6alkoxy, C1-C6haloalkoxy, and C3-C8heterocycloalkyl groups of R7 are each optionally substituted with 1 to 3 R13 groups, and each R13 is independently selected from halogen, —CN, -LR9, -LOR9, —OLR9, -LR10, -LOR10, —OLR10, -LR8, -LOR8, —OLR8, -LSR8, -LSR10, -LC(O)R8, —OLC(O)R8, -LC(O)OR8, -LC(O)R10, -LOC(O)OR8, -LC(O)NR9R11, -LC(O)NR9R8, -LN(R9)2, -LNR9R8, -LNR9R10, -LC(O)N(R9)2, -LS(O)2R8, -LS(O)R8, -LC(O)NR8OH, -LNR9C(O)R8, -LNR9C(O)OR8, -LS(O)2N(R9)2, -OLS(O)2N(R9)2, -LNR9S(O)2R8, -LC(O)NR9LN(R9)2, -LP(O)(OR8)2, -LOP(O)(OR8)2, -LP(O)(OR10)2 and —OLP(O)(OR10)2;
    • each R8 is independently selected from H, —CHR(R10)2, C1-C8alkyl, C2-C8alkene, C2-C8alkyne, C1-C6haloalkyl, C1-C6alkoxy, C1-C6heteroalkyl, C3-C8cycloalkyl, C2-C8heterocycloalkyl, C1-C6hydroxyalkyl and C1-C6haloalkoxy, wherein the C1-C8alkyl, C2-C8alkene, C2-C8alkyne, C1-C6heteroalkyl, C1-C6haloalkyl, C1-C6alkoxy, C3-C8cycloalkyl, C2-C8heterocycloalkyl, C1-C6hydroxyalkyl and C1-C6haloalkoxy groups of R8 are each optionally substituted with 1 to 3 substituents independently selected from —CN, R11, —OR11, —SR11, —C(O)R11, —OC(O)R11, —C(O)N(R9)2, —C(O)OR11, —NR9C(O)R11, —NR9R10, —NR11R12, —N(R9)2, —OR9, —OR10, —C(O)NR11R12, —C(O)NR11OH, —S(O)2R11, —S(O)R11, —S(O)2NR11R12, —NR11S(O)2R11, —P(O)(OR11)2, and —OP(O)(OR11)2;
    • each R9 is independently selected from H, —C(O)OR8, —C(O)OR8, —C(O)R10, —C(O)OR10, —S(O)2R10, —C1-C6 alkyl, C1-C6 heteroalkyl and C3-C6 cycloalkyl, or each R9 is independently a C1-C6alkyl that together with N they are attached to form a C3-C8heterocycloalkyl, wherein the C3-C8heterocycloalkyl ring optionally contains an additional heteroatom selected from N, O and S, and wherein the C1-C6 alkyl, C1-C6 heteroalkyl, C3-C6 cycloalkyl, or C3-C8heterocycloalkyl groups of R9 are each optionally substituted with 1 to 3 substituents independently selected from —CN, R11, —OR11, —SR11, —C(O)R11, OC(O)R11, —C(O)OR11, —NR11R12, —C(O)NR11R12, —C(O)NR11OH, —S(O)2R11, —S(O)R11, —S(O)2NR11R12, —NR11S(O)2R11, —P(O)(OR11)2 and —OP(O)(OR11)2;
    • each R10 is independently selected from aryl, C3-C8cycloalkyl, C3-C8heterocycloalkyl and heteroaryl, wherein the aryl, C3-C8cycloalkyl, C3-C8heterocycloalkyl and heteroaryl groups are optionally substituted with 1 to 3 substituents selected from halogen, —R8, —OR8, —LR9, —N(R9)2, —NR9C(O)R8, —NR9CO2R8, —CO2R8, —C(O)R8 and —C(O)N(R9)2;
    • R11 and R12 are independently selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6heteroalkyl, C1-C6haloalkyl, aryl, heteroaryl, C3-C8cycloalkyl, and C3-C8heterocycloalkyl, wherein the C1-C6alkyl, C1-C6heteroalkyl, C1-C6haloalkyl, aryl, heteroaryl, C3-C8cycloalkyl, and C3-C8heterocycloalkyl groups of R11 and R12 are each optionally substituted with 1 to 3 substituents independently selected from halogen, —CN, R8, —OR8, C(O)R8, OC(O)R8, —C(O)OR8, —N(R9)2, —NR8C(O)R8, —NR8C(O)OR8, —C(O)N(R9)2, C3-C8heterocycloalkyl, —S(O)2R8, —S(O)2N(R9)2, —NR9S(O)2R8, C1-C6haloalkyl and C1-C6haloalkoxy;
    • or R11 and R12 are each independently C1-C6alkyl and taken together with the N atom to which they are attached form an optionally substituted C3-C8heterocycloalkyl ring optionally containing an additional heteroatom selected from N, O and S;
    • ring A is an aryl or a heteroaryl, wherein the aryl and heteroaryl groups of Ring A are optionally substituted with 1 to 3 RA groups, wherein each RA is independently selected from —R8, —R7, —OR8, —R10, —SR8, —NO2, —CN, —N(R9)2, —NR9C(O)R8, —NR9C(S)R8, —NR9C(O)N(R9)2, —NR9C(S)N(R9)2, —NR9CO2R8, —NR9NR9C(O)R8, —NR9NR9C(O)N(R9)2, —NR9NR9CO2R8, —C(O)C(O)R8, —C(O)CH2C(O)R8, —CO2R8, —(CH2)nCO2R8, —C(O)R8, —C(S)R8, —C(O)N(R9)2, —C(S)N(R92, —OC(O)N(R9)2, —OC(O)R8, —C(O)N(OR8)r8, —C(NOR8)R8, —S(O)R8, —S(O)3R8, —SO2N(R9)2, —S(O)R8, —NR9SO2N(R9)2, —NR9SO2R8, —P(O)(OR8)2, —OP(O)(OR8)2, —P(O)(OR10)2, —OP(O)(OR10)2, —n(OR8)R8, —CH═CHCO2R8, —C(═NH)—N(R9)2, and —(CH2)nNHC(O)R8 or two adjacent RA substituents on Ring A form a 5-6 membered ring that contains up to two heteroatoms as ring members.
    • n is, independently at each occurrence, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8;
    • each m is independently selected from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and
    • t is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8.

Formulae (C), (D), (E), (G) and (H)

As discussed above, the TLR agonist can be of formula (C), (D), (E), (G) or (H).

The ‘parent’ compounds of formulae (C), (D), (E) and (H) are useful TLR7 agonists (see references 136-139 and 161-177) but are preferably modified herein by attachment of a phosphorus-containing moiety.

In some embodiments of formulae (C), (D) and (E) the compounds have structures according to formulae (C′), (D′) and (E′), shown below:

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The embodiments of the invention of formulae (C), (D), (E) and (H) also apply to formulae (C′), (D′), (E′) and (H′).

In some embodiments of formulae (C), (D), (E), and (H): X is O; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In other embodiments of formula (C): P3 is selected from C1-C6alkyl, CF3, and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)pOs— and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); P4 is selected from —C1-C6alkylaryl and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); XC is CH; X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3: q is 1 or 2.

In other embodiments of formulae (C), (D), (E), and (H): X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In other embodiments of formula (C): P3 is selected from C1-C6alkyl, CF3, and —(CH2)pO)q(CH2)pOs— and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); P4 is selected from —C1-C6alkylaryl and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY); XC is N; X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In other embodiments of formula (D): P5 is selected from C1-C6alkyl, and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY).

In other embodiments of formula (D): X is O; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In other embodiments of formula (D): X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In other embodiments of formula (E): X is O; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In other embodiments of formula (E): X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In other embodiments of formula (E): XE is CH2, P8 is C1-C6alkoxy optionally substituted with —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY).

In other embodiments of formula (E): P9 is —NHC1-C6alkyl optionally substituted with OH and C1-C6alkyl, and —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY).

In some embodiments, a compound of formula (C) is not a compound in which P4 is —Y-L-X—P(O)(ORX)(ORY).

In some embodiments, in a compound of formula (C), P4 is selected from H, C1-C6alkyl, —C1-C6alkylaryl.

In some embodiments of formula (H): XH1—XH2 is CRH2RH3, RH2 and RH3 are H, XH3 is N, X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In some embodiments of formula (H): XH1—XH2 is CRH2RH3, RH2 and RH3 are H, XH3 is N, X is O; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

The ‘parent’ compounds of formula (G) are useful TLR8 agonists (see references 140 & 141) but are preferably modified herein by attachment of a phosphorus-containing moiety to permit adsorption. In some embodiments of formula (G), the compounds have structures according to formula (G′);

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In some embodiments of formula (G) or (G′): XG is C and custom-character represents a double bond.

In some embodiments of formula (G) or (G′): X is a covalent bond; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

In some embodiments of formula (G) or (G′): X is O; L is selected from C1-C6alkylene and —((CH2)pO)q(CH2)p— each optionally substituted with 1 to 4 substituents independently selected from halo, OH, C1-C4alkyl, —OP(O)(OH)2 and —P(O)(OH)2; each p is independently selected from 1, 2 and 3; and q is selected from 1 and 2.

Immunogenic Compositions

In addition to the antigen and adjuvant components discussed above, compositions of the invention may comprise further non-antigenic component(s). These can include carriers, excipients, buffers, etc. These non-antigenic components may have various sources. For example, they may be present in one of the antigen or adjuvant materials that is used during manufacture or may be added separately from those components.

Preferred compositions of the invention include one or more pharmaceutical carrier(s) and/or excipient(s).

To control tonicity, it is preferred to include a physiological salt, such as a sodium salt. Sodium chloride (NaCl) is preferred, which may be present at between 1 and 20 mg/ml.

Compositions will generally have an osmolality of between 200 mOsm/kg and 400 mOsm/kg, preferably between 240-360 mOsm/kg, and will more preferably fall within the range of 280-320 mOsm/kg. Osmolality has previously been reported not to have an impact on pain caused by vaccination [178], but keeping osmolality in this range is nevertheless preferred.

Compositions of the invention may include one or more buffers. Typical buffers include: a phosphate buffer; a Tris buffer; a borate buffer; a succinate buffer; a histidine buffer; or a citrate buffer. Buffers will typically be included in the 5-20 mM range.

The pH of a composition of the invention will generally be between 6.0 and 7.5. A manufacturing process may therefore include a step of adjusting the pH of a composition prior to packaging. Aqueous compositions administered to a patient can have a pH of between 5.0 and 7.5, and more typically between 5.0 and 6.0 for optimum stability; where a diphtheria toxoid and/or tetanus toxoid is present, the pH is ideally between 6.0 and 7.0.

Compositions of the invention are preferably sterile.

Compositions of the invention are preferably non-pyrogenic e.g. containing <1 EU (endotoxin unit, a standard measure; 1 EU is equal to 0.2 ng FDA reference standard Endotoxin EC-2 ‘RSE’) per dose, and preferably <0.1 EU per dose.

Compositions of the invention are preferably gluten free.

If a composition includes adsorbed component then it may be a suspension with a cloudy appearance. This appearance means that microbial contamination is not readily visible, and so the vaccine preferably contains an antimicrobial agent. This is particularly important when the vaccine is packaged in multidose containers. Preferred antimicrobials for inclusion are 2-phenoxyethanol and thimerosal. It is preferred, however, not to use mercurial preservatives (e.g. thimerosal) during the process of the invention. Thus, between 1 and all of the components mixed in a process may be substantially free from mercurial preservative. However, the presence of trace amounts may be unavoidable if a component was treated with such a preservative before being used in the invention. For safety, however, it is preferred that the final composition contains less than about 25 ng/ml mercury. More preferably, the final vaccine producer contains no detectable thimerosal. This will generally be achieved by removing the mercurial preservative from an antigen preparation prior to its addition in the process of the invention or by avoiding the use of thimerosal during the preparation of the components used to make the composition. Mercury-free compositions are preferred.

Compositions of the invention will usually be in aqueous form.

During manufacture, dilution of components to give desired final concentrations will usually be performed with WFI (water for injection), or with buffer.

The invention can provide bulk material which is suitable for packaging into individual doses, which can then be distributed for administration to patients. Concentrations discussed above are typically concentrations in final packaged dose, and so concentrations in bulk vaccine may be higher (e.g. to be reduced to final concentrations by dilution).

Compositions of the invention are administered to patients in unit doses i.e. the amount of a composition given to a single patient in a single administration (e.g. a single injection is a unit dose). Where a composition is administered as a liquid then a unit dose typically has a volume of 0.5 ml. This volume will be understood to include normal variance e.g. 0.5 ml±0.05 ml. For multidose situations, multiple dose amounts will be extracted and packaged together in a single container e.g. 5 ml for a 10-dose multidose container (or 5.5 ml with 10% overfill).

Residual material from individual antigenic components may also be present in trace amounts in the final vaccine produced by the process of the invention. For example, if formaldehyde is used to prepare the toxoids of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis then the final vaccine product may retain trace amounts of formaldehyde (e.g. less than 10 μg/ml, preferably <5 μg/ml). Media or stabilizers may have been used during poliovirus preparation (e.g. Medium 199), and these may carry through to the final vaccine. Similarly, free amino acids (e.g. alanine, arginine, aspartate, cysteine and/or cystine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, histidine, proline and/or hydroxyproline, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalamine, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine and/or valine), vitamins (e.g. choline, ascorbate, etc.), disodium phosphate, monopotassium phosphate, calcium, glucose, adenine sulfate, phenol red, sodium acetate, potassium chloride, etc. may be retained in the final vaccine at ≤100 μg/ml, preferably <10 μg/ml, each. Other components from antigen preparations, such as neomycin (e.g. neomycin sulfate, particularly from a poliovirus component), polymyxin B (e.g. polymyxin B sulfate, particularly from a poliovirus component), etc. may also be present at sub-nanogram amounts per dose. A further possible component of the final vaccine which originates in the antigen preparations arises from less-than-total purification of antigens. Small amounts of B. pertussis, C. diphtheriae, C. tetani and S. cerevisiae proteins and/or genomic DNA may therefore be present. To minimize the amounts of these residual components, antigen preparations are preferably treated to remove them prior to the antigens being used with the invention.

Where a poliovirus component is used, it will generally have been grown on Vero cells. The final vaccine preferably contains less than 10 ng/ml, preferably ≤1 ng/ml e.g. ≤500 pg/ml or ≤50 pg/ml of Vero cell DNA e.g. less than 10 ng/ml of Vero cell DNA that is ≥50 base pairs long.

Compositions of the invention are presented for use in containers. Suitable containers include vials and disposable syringes (preferably sterile ones). Processes of the invention may comprise a step of packaging the vaccine into containers for use. Suitable containers include vials and disposable syringes (preferably sterile ones).

The invention also provides a delivery device (e.g. syringe, nebuliser, sprayer, inhaler, dermal patch, etc.) containing a pharmaceutical composition of the invention e.g. containing a unit dose. This device can be used to administer the composition to a vertebrate subject.

The invention also provides a sterile container (e.g. a vial) containing a pharmaceutical composition of the invention e.g. containing a unit dose.

The invention also provides a unit dose of a pharmaceutical composition of the invention.

The invention also provides a hermetically scaled container containing a pharmaceutical composition of the invention. Suitable containers include e.g. a vial.

Where a composition of the invention is presented in a vial, this is preferably made of a glass or plastic material. The vial is preferably sterilized before the composition is added to it. To avoid problems with latex-sensitive patients, vials may be sealed with a latex-free stopper. The vial may include a single dose of vaccine, or it may include more than one dose (a ‘multidose’ vial) e.g. 10 doses. When using a multidose vial, each dose should be withdrawn with a sterile needle and syringe under strict aseptic conditions, taking care to avoid contaminating the vial contents. Preferred vials are made of colorless glass.

A vial can have a cap (e.g. a Luer lock) adapted such that a pre-filled syringe can be inserted into the cap, the contents of the syringe can be expelled into the vial (e.g. to reconstitute lyophilised material therein), and the contents of the vial can be removed back into the syringe. After removal of the syringe from the vial, a needle can then be attached and the composition can be administered to a patient. The cap is preferably located inside a seal or cover, such that the seal or cover has to be removed before the cap can be accessed.

Where the composition is packaged into a syringe, the syringe will not normally have a needle attached to it, although a separate needle may be supplied with the syringe for assembly and use.

Safety needles are preferred. 1-inch 23-gauge, 1-inch 25-gauge and ⅝-inch 25-gauge needles are typical. Syringes may be provided with peel-off labels on which the lot number and expiration date of the contents may be printed, to facilitate record keeping. The plunger in the syringe preferably has a stopper to prevent the plunger from being accidentally removed during aspiration. The syringes may have a latex rubber cap and/or plunger. Disposably syringes contain a single dose of vaccine. The syringe will generally have a tip cap to scul the tip prior to attachment of a needle, and the tip cap is preferably made of butyl rubber. If the syringe and needle are packaged separately then the needle is preferably fitted with a butyl rubber shield. Grey butyl rubber is preferred. Preferred syringes are those marketed under the trade name “Tip-Lok”™.

Where a glass container (e.g. a syringe or a vial) is used, then it is preferred to use a container made from a borosilicate glass rather than from a soda lime glass.

After a composition is packaged into a container, the container can then be enclosed within a box for distribution e.g. inside a cardboard box, and the box will be labeled with details of the vaccine e.g. its trade name, a list of the antigens in the vaccine (e.g. ‘hepatitis B recombinant’, etc.), the presentation container (e.g. ‘Disposable Prefilled Tip-Lok Syringes’ or ‘10×0.5 ml Single-Dose Vials’), its dose (e.g. ‘each containing one 0.5 ml dose’), warnings (e.g. ‘For Adult Use Only’ or ‘For Pediatric Use Only’), an expiration date, an indication, a patent number, etc. Each box might contain more than one packaged vaccine e.g. five or ten packaged vaccines (particularly for vials).

The vaccine may be packaged together (e.g. in the same box) with a leaflet including details of the vaccine e.g. instructions for administration, details of the antigens within the vaccine, etc. The instructions may also contain warnings e.g. to keep a solution of adrenaline readily available in case of anaphylactic reaction following vaccination, etc.

The packaged vaccine is preferably stored at between 2° C. and 8° C. It should not be frozen.

Vaccines can be provided in full-liquid form (i.e. where all antigenic components are in aqueous solution or suspension) after manufacture, or they can be prepared in a form where the vaccine can be prepared extemporaneously at the time/point of use by mixing together two components. Such two-component embodiments include liquid/liquid mixing and liquid/solid mixing e.g. by mixing aqueous material with lyophilised material. For instance, in one embodiment a vaccine can be made by mixing: (a) a first component comprising aqueous antigens and/or adjuvant; and (b) a second component comprising lyophilized antigens. In another embodiment a vaccine can be made by mixing: (a) a first component comprising aqueous antigens and/or adjuvant; and (b) a second component comprising aqueous antigens. In another embodiment a vaccine can be made by mixing: (a) a first component comprising aqueous antigens; and (b) a second component comprising aqueous adjuvant. The two components are preferably in separate (e.g. vials and/or syringes), and the invention provides a kit comprising components (a) and (b).

Another useful liquid/lyophilised format comprises (a) an aqueous complex of an aluminium salt and a TLR agonist and (b) a lyophilised component including one or more antigens. A vaccine composition suitable for patient administration is obtained by mixing components (a) and (b). In some embodiments component (a) is antigen-free, such that all antigenic components in the final vaccine are derived from component (b); in other embodiments component (a) includes one or more antigen(s), such that the antigenic components in the final vaccine are derived from both components (a) and (b).

Thus the invention provides a kit for preparing a combination vaccine, comprising components (a) and (b) as noted above. The kit components are typically vials or syringes, and a single kit may contain both a vial and a syringe. The invention also provides a process for preparing such a kit, comprising the following steps: (i) preparing an aqueous component vaccine as described above; (ii) packaging said aqueous combination vaccine in a first container e.g. a syringe; (iii) preparing an antigen-containing component in lyophilised form; (iv) packaging said lyophilised antigen in a second container e.g. a vial; and (v) packaging the first container and second container together in a kit. The kit can then be distributed to physicians.

A liquid/lyophilised format is particularly useful for vaccines that include a conjugate component, particularly Hib and/or menigococcal and/or pneumococcal conjugates, as these may be more stable in lyophilized form. Thus conjugates may be lyophilised prior to their use with the invention.

Where a component is lyophilised it generally includes non-active components which were added prior to freeze-drying e.g. as stabilizers. Preferred stabilizers for inclusion are lactose, sucrose and mannitol, as well as mixtures thereof e.g. lactose/sucrose mixtures, sucrose/mannitol mixtures, etc. A final vaccine obtained by aqueous reconstitution of the lyophilised material may thus contain lactose and/or sucrose. It is preferred to use amorphous excipients and/or amorphous buffers when preparing lyophilised vaccines [179].

Most compositions of the invention include diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis toxoids. In pediatric-type compositions the composition includes an excess of diphtheria toxoid relative to tetanus toxoid (as measured in Lf units). The excess is ideally at least 1:5:1 e.g. 5 Lf of diphtheria toxoid for every 2 Lf of tetanus toxoid (i.e. a 2.5:1 ratio). These embodiments are most useful in infants and children. In booster-type compositions, which are most useful in adolescents and adults, the composition includes an excess of tetanus toxoid relative to diphtheria toxoid (as measured in Lf units). The excess is ideally at least 1.5:1 e.g. 2 Lf of tetanus toxoid for every 1 Lf of diphtheria toxoid (i.e. a 2:1 ratio). In further embodiments, equal amounts of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids are used (in Lf units). Where one of diphtheria or tetanus is present at an excess, the excess should ideally be at least 1.5-fold e.g. 2-fold or 2.5-fold, but the excess will not usually be more than 5-fold.

A composition of the invention includes a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen and at least one of a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and/or a pertussis toxoid. Ideally a composition includes all four of a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen, a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid. In some embodiments a composition of the invention includes no immunogens beyond those in this list; in other embodiments a composition of the invention does include immunogens beyond those in this list. Thus, for example, some compositions include diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis toxoids, inactivated poliovirus for Types 1, 2 & 3, hepatitis B virus surface antigen and a Hib conjugate. The antigenic portion of these compositions may consist of the antigens in this list, or may further include antigens from additional pathogens (e.g. meningococcus). Thus the compositions can be used as vaccines themselves, or as components of further combination vaccines.

Specific embodiments of the invention include compositions whose immunogens consist of: (a) D-T-aP-MenB; (b) D-T-aP-MenB-IPV; (c) D-T-aP-MenB-HBsAg; (d) D-T-aP-MenB-Hib; (e) D-T-aP-menB-HBsAg-Hib; (f) D-T-aP-MenB-HBsAg-IPV; (g) D-T-aP-MenB-IPV-Hib; (h) D-T-aP-MenB-IPV-Hib-HBsAg; (i) D-T-MenB; where “D” is diphtheria toxoid, “T” is tetanus toxoid, “aP” is an acellular pertussis antigen or mixture, MenB is a serogroup B meningococcus antigen or mixture, “IPV” is an inactivated poliovirus antigen or mixture, “HBsAg” is a hepatitis B virus surface antigen, and “Hib” is a conjugated H. influenzae type B capsular saccharide.

Methods of Treatment, and Administration of the Vaccine

Compositions of the invention are suitable for administration to human patients, and the invention provides a method of raising an immune response in a patient, comprising the step of administering a composition of the invention to the patient.

The invention also provides a composition of the invention for use in medicine. The composition may be administered as variously described herein e.g. in some embodiments by giving an infant no more than two doses of a combination vaccine.

The invention also provides the use of a serogroup B meningococcus immunogen, a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid (and, optionally, an adjuvant) in the manufacture of a medicament for raising an immune response in a patient. The medicament is ideally a composition as variously described elsewhere herein, and it can be administered as variously described herein.

The immune response raised by these methods, uses and compositions are ideally protective, and immunogenic compositions of the invention are preferably vaccines, for use in the prevention of at least diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. Depending on their antigen components of the vaccines may also protect against bacterial meningitis, polio, hepatitis, etc.

In order to have full efficacy, a typical primary immunization schedule (particularly for a child) may involve administering more than one dose. For example, doses may be at: 0 & 6 months (time 0 being the first dose); at 0, 1, 2 & 6 months; at day 0, day 21 and then a third dose between 6 & 12 months; at 2, 4 & 6 months; at 3, 4 & 5 months; at 6, 10 & 14 weeks; at 2, 3 & 4 months; or at 0, 1, 2, 6 & 12 months.

Compositions can also be used as booster doses e.g. for children in the second year of life, for an adolescent, or for an adult.

Compositions of the invention can be administered by intramuscular injecting e.g. into the arm or leg.

Optional Requirements and Disclaimers [180]

In some embodiments, the invention does not encompass compositions in unit dose form comprising (i) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid, and (ii) an aluminium salt adjuvant, wherein the amount of Al+++ in the unit dose is less than 0.2 mg. In other embodiments, if a composition is in unit dose form and comprises (i) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid, and (ii) an aluminium salt adjuvant, but the amount of Al+++ in the unit dose is less than 0.2 mg, then: (a) the composition includes at least a 1.5-fold excess of diphtheria toxoid to tetanus toxoid, measured in Lf units; or (b) the composition includes at least a 1.5-fold excess of tetanus toxoid to diphtheria toxoid, measured in Lf units; or (c) the composition includes an acellular PT-containing antigen pertussis antigen rather than a whole-cell pertussis antigen.

In some embodiments, the invention does not encompass compositions comprising (i) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid, and (ii) an aluminium salt adjuvant, wherein the concentration of Al+++ is less than 0.4 mg/ml. In other embodiments, if a composition comprises (i) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, and a pertussis toxoid, and (ii) an aluminium salt adjuvant, but the concentration of Al+++ in the unit dose is less than 0.4 mg/ml, then: (a) the composition includes at least a 1.5-fold excess of diphtheria toxoid to tetanus toxoid, measured in Lf units; or (b) the composition includes at least a 1.5-fold excess of tetanus toxoid to diphtheria toxoid, measured in Lf units; or (c) the composition includes an acellular PT-containing antigen pertussis antigen rather than a whole-cell pertussis antigen.

In some embodiments, the invention does not encompass compositions comprising (i) an aluminium salt adjuvant and (ii) ≤8 Lf/ml diphtheria toxoid, ≤3.5 Lf/ml tetanus toxoid, and ≤5 μg/ml pertussis toxoid. In other embodiments, if a composition comprises (i) an aluminium salt adjuvant and (ii) ≤8 Lf/ml diphtheria toxoid, ≤3.5 Lf/ml tetanus toxoid, and ≤5 μg/ml pertussis toxoid, then: (a) the composition includes at least a 1.5-fold excess of diphtheria toxoid to tetanus toxoid, measured in Lf units; or (b) the composition includes at least a 1.5-fold excess of tetanus toxoid to diphtheria toxoid, measured in Lf units; or (c) the composition includes an acellular PT-containing antigen pertussis antigen rather than a whole-cell pertussis antigen.

In some embodiments, the invention does not encompass compositions comprising (i) an oil-in-water emulsion adjuvant (ii) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, a pertussis toxoid, and a Hib conjugate, and (iii) a hepatitis B virus surface antigen and/or an inactivated poliovirus antigen. In other embodiments, if a composition comprises (i) an oil-in-water emulsion adjuvant (ii) a diphtheria toxoid, a tetanus toxoid, a pertussis toxoid, and a Hib conjugate, then: (a) the composition does not include a hepatitis B virus surface antigen; or (b) the composition does not include an inactivated poliovirus antigen; or (c) the composition includes neither an inactivated poliovirus antigen nor a hepatitis B virus surface antigen; or (d) the composition includes at least a 1.5-fold excess of diphtheria toxoid to tetanus toxoid, measured in Lf units; or (e) the composition includes at least a 1.5-fold excess of tetanus toxoid to diphtheria toxoid, measured in Lf units; or (f) the composition includes an acellular PT-containing antigen pertussis antigen rather than a whole-cell pertussis antigen.

In some embodiments, the invention does not encompass compositions which comprise a conjugate of a H. influenzae type b capsular saccharide antigen and an outer membrane protein complex from serogroup B meningococcus. In other embodiments, if a composition of the invention includes a conjugate of a H. influenzae type b capsular saccharide antigen and an outer membrane protein complex from serogroup B meningococcus then it must also include a further immunogen from serogroup B meningococcus.

In some embodiments, the invention does not encompass compositions which include both an aluminium salt adjuvant and a TLR4 agonist.

General

The term “comprising” encompasses “including” as well as “consisting” e.g. a composition “comprising” X may consist exclusively of X or may include something additional e.g. X+Y.

The word “substantially” does not exclude “completely” e.g. a composition which is “substantially free” from Y may be completely free from Y. Where necessary, the word “substantially” may be omitted from the definition of the invention.

The term “about” in relation to a numerical value x means, for example, x±10%.

Unless specifically stated, a process comprising a step of mixing two or more components does not require any specific order of mixing. Thus components can be mixed in any order. Where there are three components then two components can be combined with each other, and then the combination may be combined with the third component, etc.

Where an antigen is described as being “adsorbed” to an adjuvant, it is preferred that at least 50% (by weight) of that antigen is adsorbed e.g. 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, 98% or more. It is preferred that diphtheria toxoid and tetanus toxoid are both totally adsorbed i.e. none is detectable in supernatant. Total adsorption of HBsAg can be used.

Amounts of conjugates are generally given in terms of mass of saccharide (i.e. the dose of the conjugate (carrier+saccharide) as a whole is higher than the stated dose) in order to avoid variation due to choice of carrier.

Phosphorous-containing groups employed with the invention may exist in a number of protonated and deprotonated forms depending on the pH of the surrounding environment, for example the pH of the solvent in which they are dissolved. Therefore, although a particular form may be illustrated herein, it is intended, unless otherwise mentioned, for these illustrations to merely be representative and not limiting to a specific protonated or deprotonated form. For example, in the case of a phosphate group, this has been illustrated as —OP(O)(OH)2 but the definition includes the protonated forms —[OP(O)(OH2)(OH)]+ and —[OP(O)(OH2)2]2+ that may exist in acidic conditions and the deprotonated forms —[OP(O)(OH)(O)] and [OP(O)(O)2]2− that may exist in basic conditions. The invention encompasses all such forms.

TLR agonists can exist as pharmaceutically acceptable salts. Thus, the compounds may be used in the form of their pharmaceutically acceptable salts i.e. physiologically or toxicologically tolerable salt (which includes, when appropriate, pharmaceutically acceptable base addition salts and pharmaceutically acceptable acid addition salts).

In the case of TLR agonists shown herein which may exist in tautomeric forms, the compound can be used in all such tautomeric forms.

Where a compound is administered to the body as part of a composition then that compound may alternatively be replaced by a suitable prodrug.

Where animal (and particularly bovine) materials are used in the culture of cells, they should be obtained from sources that are free from transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), and in particular free from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Meningococcal Protein Immunogens

NHBA (Neisserial Heparin Binding Antingen)

NHBA [181] was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB2132 (GenBank accession number GI:7227388; SEQ ID NO: 9 herein). Sequences of NHBA from many strains have been published since then. For example, allelic forms of NHBA (referred to as protein ‘287’) can be seen in FIGS. 5 and 15 of reference 182, and in example 13 and FIG. 21 of reference 183 (SEQ IDs 3179 to 3184 therein). Various immunogenic fragments of NHBA have also been reported.

Preferred NHBA antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 9; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 9, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 9.

The most useful NHBA antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 9. Advantageous NHBA antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

One useful NHBA antigen comprises SEQ ID NO: 4, which is a fusion of NHBA to NMB1030, as present in the BEXSERO™ product.

NadA (Neisserial Adhesion A)

The NadA antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB1994 (GenBank accession number GI:7227256; SEQ ID NO: 10 herein). The sequences of NadA antigen from many strains have been published since then, and the protein's activity as a Neisserial adhesin has been well documented. Various immunogenic fragments of NadA have also been reported.

Preferred NadA antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 10; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 10, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 10.

NadA will usually be present in a composition in oligomeric form e.g. trimers [184].

The most useful NadA antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 10. Advantageous NadA antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject. SEQ ID NO: 6 is one such fragment, as present in the BEXSERO™ product.

fHbp (Factor H Binding Protein)

The fHbp antigen has been characterised in detail. It has also been known as protein ‘741’ [SEQ IDs 2535 & 2536 in ref. 183]. ‘NMB1870’, ‘GNA1870’ [185, 186, 207], ‘P2086’, ‘LP2086’ or ‘ORF2086’ [187-189]. It is naturally a lipoprotein and is expressed across all meningococcal serogroups. The structure of fHbp's C-terminal immunodominant domain (‘fHbpC’) has been determined by NMR [190]. This part of the protein forms an eight-stranded β-barrel, whose strands are connected by loops of variable lengths. The barrel is preceded by a short α-helix and by a flexible N-terminal tail.

The fHbp antigen falls into three distinct variants [191] and it has been found that serum raised against a given family is bactericidal within the same family, but is not active against strains which express one of the other two families i.e. there is intra-family cross-protection, but not inter-family cross-protection. The invention can use a single fHbp variant, but is will usefully include a fHbp from two or three of the variants.

Where a composition comprises a single fHBP variant, it may include one of the following:

    • (a) a first polypeptide comprising a first amino acid sequence, where the first amino acid sequence comprises an amino acid sequence (i) having at least a% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO: 1 and/or (ii) consisting of a fragment of at least x contiguous amino acids from SEQ ID NO: 1;

(b) a second polypeptide, comprising a second amino acid sequence, where the second amino acid sequence comprises an amino acid sequence (i) having at least b% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO: 2 and/or (ii) consisting of a fragment of at least y contiguous amino acids from SEQ ID NO: 2;

    • (c) a third polypeptide, comprising a third amino acid sequence, where the third amino acid sequence comprises an amino acid sequence (i) having at least c% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO: 3 and/or (ii) consisting of a fragment of at least z contiguous amino acids from SEQ ID NO: 3.

The value of a is at least 80 e.g. 82, 84, 86, 88, 90, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 or more. The value of b is at least 80 e.g. 82, 84, 86, 88, 90, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 or more. The value of c is at least 80 e.g. 82, 84, 86, 88, 90, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 or more. The values of a, b and c may be the same or different. In some embodiments, a b and c are identical.

The value of x is at least 7 e.g. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 140, 160, 180, 200, 225, 250). The value of y is at least 7 e.g. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 140, 160, 180, 200, 225, 250). The value of z is at least 7 e.g. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 140, 160, 180, 200, 225, 250). The values of x, y and z may be the same or different. In some embodiments, x y and z are identical.

Fragments preferably comprise an epitope from the respective SEQ ID NO: sequence. Other useful fragments lack one or more amino acids (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25 or more) from the C-terminus and/or one or more amino acids (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25 or more) from the N-terminus of the respective SEQ ID NO: while retaining at least one epitope thereof.

In some embodiments the fragment of at least x contiguous amino acids from SEQ ID NO: 1 is not also present within SEQ ID NO: 2 or within SEQ ID NO: 3. Similarly, the fragment of at least y contiguous amino acids from SEQ ID NO: 2 might not also be present within SEQ ID NO: 1 or within SEQ ID NO: 3. Similarly, the fragment of at least z contiguous amino acids from SEQ ID NO: 3 might not also be present within SEQ ID NO: 1 or within SEQ ID NO: 2. In some embodiments, when said fragment from one of SEQ ID NOs: 1 to 3 is aligned as a contiguous sequence against the other two SEQ ID NOs, the identity between the fragment and each of the other two SEQ ID NOs is less than 75% e.g. less than 70%, less than 65%, less than 60%, etc.

Where a composition comprises two different meningococcal fHBP antigens, it may include a combination of: (i) a first and second polypeptide as defined above; (ii) a first and third polypeptide as defined above; or (iii) a second and third polypeptide as defined above. A combination of a first and third polypeptide is preferred. Where a composition comprises two different meningococcal fHBP antigens, although these may share some sequences in common, the first, second and third polypeptides have different fHBP amino acid sequences.

A polypeptide comprising the first amino acid sequence will, when administered to a subject, elicit an antibody response comprising antibodies that bind to the wild-type meningococcus protein which has nascent amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 20 (MC58). In some embodiments some or all of these antibodies do not bind to the wild-type meningococcus protein which has nascent amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 21 or to the wild-type meningococcus protein which has the nascent amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 22.

A polypeptide comprising the second amino acid sequence will, when administered to a subject, elicit an antibody response comprising antibodies that bind to the wild-type meningococcus protein which as nascent amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 21 (2996). In some embodiments some or all of these antibodies do not bind to the wild-type meningococcus protein which has nascent amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 20 or to the wild-type meningococcus protein which has nascent amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 22.

A polypeptide comprising the third amino acid sequence will, when administered to a subject, elicit an antibody response comprising antibodies that bind to the wild-type meningococcus protein which as nascent amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 22 (M1239). In some embodiments some or all of these antibodies do not bind to the wild-type meningococcus protein which has nascent amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 20 or to the wild-type meningococcus protein which has nascent amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 21.

A useful first amino acid sequence has at least 85% identity (e.g. >95% or 100%) to SEQ ID NO: 1 (strain MC58). Another useful first amino acid sequence has at least 95% identity (e.g. >98% or 100%) to SEQ ID NO: 23 (strain CDC1573).

A useful third amino acid sequence has at least 85% identity (e.g. >95% or 100%) to SEQ ID NO: 3 (strain M1239). Another useful third amino acid sequence has at least 95% identity (e.g. >98% or 100%) to SEQ ID NO: 25 (strain M98-250771).

Combinations comprising a mixture of first and third sequences based around SEQ ID NOs: 23 and 25 (or their close variants) are particularly useful. Thus a composition may comprise a polypeptide comprising amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 24 and a polypeptide comprising amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 26.

Where a composition includes two meningococcal fHBP antigens, this may be in a bivalent fHBP composition, or there may be more than two different fHBP antigens e.g. in a trivalent or tetravalent fHBP composition.

Another useful fHbp which can be used according to the invention is one of the modified forms disclosed, for example, in reference 192 e.g. comprising SEQ ID NO: 20 or 23 therefrom. These modified forms can elicit antibody responses which are broadly bactericidal against meningococci by recognising multiple fHbp variant. One such modified form is SEQ ID NO: 28 herein (SEQ ID NO: 23 in ref. 192), which can be fused to non-fHbp sequences as disclosed in reference 193 e.g. to give SEQ ID NO: 19 (which contains NMB2091 and two copies of SEQ ID NO: 28), which is used in the examples below.

SEQ ID NO: 77 from ref. 192 is another useful fHbp sequence which can be used in order to provide broad inter-strain reactivity.

In some embodiments fHBP polypeptide(s) are lipidated e.g. at a N-terminus cysteine. In other embodiments, however, fHBP polypeptide(s) are not lipidated. For lipidated fHBP, lipids attached to cysteines will usually include palmitoyl residues e.g. as tripalmitoyl-S-glyceryl-cysteine (Pam3Cys), dipalmitoyl-S-glyceryl cysteine (Pam2Cys), N-acetyl (dipalmitoyl-S-glyceryl cysteine), etc. Examples of mature lipidated fHBP sequences are SEQ ID NO: 24 (including SEQ ID NO: 23) and SEQ ID NO: 26 (including SEQ ID NO: 25). If fHBP protein(s) are located in a vesicle then they will usually be lipidated.

Administration of a fHBP will preferably elicit antibodies which can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 1, 2 or 3. Advantageous fHBP antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

The total amount of a fHBP polypeptide will usually be between 1 and 500 μg per unit dose e.g. between 60 and 200 μg per unit. An amount of 10, 20, 40, 50, 60, 80, 100 or 200 μg per unit dose for each fHBP polypeptide is typical in a human vaccine dose.

Where a composition comprises different meningococcal fHBP antigens, these may be present as separate polypeptides as described above (e.g. a first and second polypeptide) or they may be present as part of a single fusion polypeptide i.e. where at least two (e.g. 2, 3, 4, 5, or more) fHBP antigens are expressed as a single polypeptide chain, as disclosed for meningococcal antigens in reference 194. Most usefully, a fusion polypeptide can include each of a first, second and third sequence as discussed above e.g. SEQ ID NO: 27.

HmbR

The full-length HmbR sequence was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB1668 (SEQ ID NO: 7 herein). Reference 195 reports a HMbR sequence from a different strain (SEQ ID NO: 8 herein), and reference 196 reports a further sequence (SEQ ID NO: 15 herein). SEQ ID NOs: 7 and 8 differ in length by 1 amino acid and have 94.2% identity. SEQ ID NO: 15 is one amino acid shorter than SEQ ID NO: 7 and they have 99% identity (one insertion, seven differences). The invention can use any such HmbR polypeptide.

The invention can use a polypeptide that comprises a full-length HmbR sequence, but it will often use a polypeptide that comprises a partial HmbR sequence. Thus in some embodiments a HmbR sequence used according to the invention may comprise an amino acid sequence having at least i% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO: 7, where the value of i is 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, 99 or more. In other embodiments a HmbR sequence used according to the invention may comprise a fragment of at least j consecutive amino acids from SEQ ID NO: 7, where the value of j is 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more. In other embodiments a HmbR sequence used according to the invention may comprise an amino acid sequence (i) having at least i% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO: 7 and/or (ii) comprising a fragment of at least j consecutive amino acids from SEQ ID NO: 7.

Preferred fragments of j amino acids comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 7. Such epitopes will usually comprise amino acids that are located on the surface of HmbR. Useful epitopes include those with amino acids involved in HmbR's binding to haemoglobin, as antibodies that bind to these epitopes can block the ability of a bacterium to bind to host haemoglobin. The topology of HmbR, and its critical functional residues, were investigated in reference 197. Fragments that retain a transmembrane sequence are useful, because they can be displayed on the bacterial surface e.g. in vesicles. If soluble HmbR is used, however, sequences omitting the transmembrane sequence, but typically retaining epitope(s) from the extracellular portion, can be used.

The most useful HmbR antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 7. Advantageous HmbR antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

NspA (Neisserial Surface Protein A)

The NspA antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB0663 (GenBank accession number GI:7225888; SEQ ID NO: 11 herein). The antigen was previously known from references 198 & 199. The sequences of NspA antigen from many strains have been published since then. Various immunogenic fragments of NspA have also been reported.

Preferred NspA antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 11; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 11, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 11.

The most useful NspA antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO: 11. Advantageous NspA antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

NhhA (Neisseria hia Homologue)

The NhhA antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB0992 (GenBank accession number GI:7226232; SEQ ID NO: 12 herein). The sequence of NhhA antigen from many strains have been published since e.g. refs 182 & 200, and various immunogenic fragments of NhhA have been reported. It is also known as Hsf.

Preferred NhhA antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 12; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 12, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 12.

The most useful NhhA antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 12. Advantageous NhhA antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

App (Adhesion and Penetration Protein)

The App antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB1985 (GenBank accession number GI:7227246; SEQ ID NO: 13 herein). The sequence of App antigen from many strains have been published since then. It has also been known as ‘ORF1’ and ‘Hap’. Various immunogenic fragments of App have also been reported.

Preferred App antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 13; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 13, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 13.

The most useful App antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 13. Advantageous App antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

Omp85 (85 kDa Outer Membrane Protein)

The Omp85 antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB0182 (GenBank accession number GI:7225401; SEQ ID NO: 14 herein). The sequence of Omp85 antigen from many strains have been published since then. Further information on Omp85 can be found in references 201 and 202. Various immunogenic fragments of Omp85 have also been reported.

Preferred Omp85 antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 14; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 14, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 14.

The most useful Omp85 antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 14. Advantageous Omp85 antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

TbpA

The TbpA antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB0461 (GenBank accession number GI:7225687; SEQ ID NO: 23 herein). The sequence of TbpA antigen from many strains have been published since then. Various immunogenic fragments of TbpA have also been reported.

Preferred TbpA antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 23; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 23, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 23.

The most useful TbpA antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 23. Advantageous TbpA antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

TbpB

The TbpB antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB0460 (GenBank accession number GI:7225686; SEQ ID NO: 24 herein). The sequence of TbpB from many strains have been published since then. Various immunogenic fragments of TbpB have also been reported.

Preferred TbpB antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 24; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 24, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 24.

The most useful TbpB antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 24. Advantageous TbpB antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

Cu,Zn-Superoxide Dismutase

The Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB1398 (GenBank accession number GI:7226637; SEQ ID NO: 25 herein). The sequence of Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase from many strains have been published since then. Various immunogenic fragments of Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase have also been reported.

Preferred Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 25; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 25, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 25.

The most useful Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 25. Advantageous Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

ZnuD

The ZnuD antigen was included in the published genome sequence for meningococcal serogroup B strain MC58 [26] as gene NMB0964 (GenBank accession number GI:15676857; SEQ ID NO: 29 herein). The sequence of ZnuD from many strains have been published since then e.g. see references 203 & 204.

Preferred ZnuD antigens for use with the invention comprise an amino acid sequence: (a) having 50% or more identity (e.g. 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5% or more) to SEQ ID NO: 29; and/or (b) comprising a fragment of at least ‘n’ consecutive amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 29, wherein ‘n’ is 7 or more (e.g. 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 or more). Preferred fragments of (b) comprise an epitope from SEQ ID NO: 29.

The most useful ZnuD antigens can elicit antibodies which, after administration to a subject, can bind to a meningococcal polypeptide consisting of amino acid sequences SEQ ID NO: 29. Advantageous ZnuD antigens for use with the invention can elicit bactericidal anti-meningococcal antibodies after administration to a subject.

Meningococcal Vesicles

The invention can be used with various types of vesicle which are known for Neisseria meningitidis.

Reference 22 disclosed the construction of vesicles from meningococcal strains modified to express six different PorA subtypes. References 205-207 report pre-clinical studies of an OMV vaccine in which fHbp (also known as GN1870) is over-expressed (and this over-expression can be combined with knockout of LpxL1 [208]). Reference 209 recently reported a clinical study of five formulations of an OMV vaccine in which PorA & FrpB are knocked-out and Hsf & TbpA are over-expressed. Reference 210 reports a native outer membrane vesicle vaccine prepared from bacteria having inactivated synX, lpxL1, and lgtA genes. All such vesicles can be used herein.

OMVs can be prepared from meningococci which over-express desired antigen(s) due to genetic modification. In addition to genetic modification(s) which cause over-expression of antigen(s) of interest, the bacteria may include one or more further modifications. For instance, the bacterium may have a knockout of one or more of lpxL1, lgtB, porA, frpB, synX, lgtA, mltA and/or lst.

The bacterium may have low endotoxin levels, achieved by knockout of enzymes involved in LPS biosynthesis [211,212].

The bacterium may be of any serotype (e.g. 1, 2a, 2b, 4, 14, 15, 16, etc.), any serosubtype, and any immunotype (e.g. L1; L2; L3; L3,3,7; L10; etc.). Vesicles can usefully be prepared from strains having one of the following subtypes: P1.2; P1.2,5; P1.4; P1.5; P1.5,2; P1.5.c; P1.5c,10; P1.7,16; P1.7,16b; P1.7h,4; P1.9; P1.15; P1.9,15; P1.12,13; P1.13; P1.14; P1.21,16; P1.22,14.

The bacterium may be from any suitable lineage, including hyperinvasive and hypervirulent lineages e.g. any of the following seven hypervirulent lineages: subgroup I; subgroup III; subgroup IV-1; ET-5 complex; ET-37 complex; A4 cluster, lineage 3. These lineages have been defined by multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE), but multilocus sequence typing (MLST) has also been used to classify meningococci [ref. 213] e.g. the ET-37 complex is the ST-11 complex by MLST, the ET-5 complex is ST-32 (ET-5), lineage 3 is ST-41/44, etc.

In some embodiments a bacterium may include one or more of the knockout and/or hyper-expression mutations disclosed in references 226 and 214-216. Suitable genes for modification include: (a) Cps, CtrA, CtrB, CtrC, CtrD, FrpB, GalE, HtrB/MsbB, LbpA, LbpB, LpxK, Opa, Opc, PilC, PorB, SiaA, SiaB, SiaC, SiaD, TbpA, and/or TbpB [214]; (b) CtrA, CtrB, CtrC, CtrD, FrpB, GalE, HtrB/MsbB, LbpA, LbpB, LpxK, Opa, Opc, PhoP, PilC, PmrE, PmrF, SiaA, SiaB, SiaC, SiaD, TbpA, and/or TbpB; (c) ExbB, ExbD, rmpM, CtrA, CtrB, CtrD, GalE, LbpA, LpbB, Opa, Opc, PilC, PorB, SiaA, SiaB, SiaC, SiaD, TbpA, and/or TbpB; and (d) CtrA, CtrB, CtrD, FrpB, OpA, OpC, PilC, PorB, SiaD, SynA, SynB, and/or SynC.

A bacterium may have one or more, or all, of the following characteristics: (i) down-regulated or knocked-out LgtB and/or GalE to truncate the meningococcal LOS; (ii) up-regulated TbpA; (iii) up-regulated NhhA; (iv) up-regulated Omp85; (v) up-regulated LbpA; (vi) up-regulated NspA; (vii) knocked-out PorA; (viii) down-regulated or knocked-out FrpB; (ix) down-regulated or knocked-out Opa; (x) down-regulated or knocked-out Opc; (xi) deleted cps gene complex; (xi) up-regulated NHBA; (xii) up-regulated NadA; (xiii) up-regulated NHBA and NadA; (xiv) up-regulated fHbp; (xv) down-regulated LpxL1. A truncated LOS can be one that does not include a sialyl-lacto-N-neotetraose epitope e.g. it might be a galactose-deficient LOS. The LOS may have no α chain.

If lipo-oligosaccharide (LOS) is present in a vesicle it is possible to treat the vesicle so as to link its LOS and protein components (“intra-bleb” conjunction [216]).

The vesicles may lack LOS altogether, or they may lack hexa-acylated LOS e.g. LOS in the vesicles may have a reduced number of secondary acyl chains per LOS molecule [217]. For example, the vesicles may from a strain which has a lpxL1 deletion or mutation which results in production of a penta-acylated LOS [206,210]. LOS in a strain may lack a lacto-N-neotetraose epitope e.g. it may be a 1st and/or lgtB knockout strain [209]. LOS may lack at least one wild-type primary O-linked fatty acid [218], LOS having. The LOS may have no α chain. The LOS may comprise GlcNAc-Hep2phosphoethanolamine-KDO2-Lipid A [219].

As a result of up-regulation mentioned above, vesicles prepared from modified meningococci contain higher levels of the up-regulated antigen(s). The increase in expression in the vesicles (measured relative to a corresponding wild-type strain) is usefully at least 10% measured in mass of the relevant antigen per unit mass of vesicle, and is more usefully at least 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 75%, 100% or more.

Suitable recombinant modifications which can be used to cause up-regulation of an antigen include, but are not limited to: (i) promoter replacement; (ii) gene addition; (iii) gene replacement; or (iv) repressor knockout. In promoter replacement, the promoter which controls expression of the antigen's gene in a bacterium is replaced with a promoter which provides higher levels of expression. For instance, the gene might be placed under the control of a promoter from a housekeeping metabolic gene. In other embodiments, the antigen's gene is placed under the control of a constitutive or inducible promoter. Similarly, the gene can be modified to ensure that its expression is not subject to phase variation. Methods for reducing or eliminating phase variability of gene expression in meningococcus are disclosed in reference 220. These methods include promoter replacement, or the removal or replacement of a DNA motif which is responsible for a gene's phase variability. In gen addition, a bacterium which already expresses the antigen receives a second copy of the relevant gene. This second copy can be integrated into the bacterial chromosome or can be on an episomal element such as a plasmid. The second copy can have a stronger promoter than the existing copy. The gene can be placed under the control of a constitutive or inducible promoter. The effect of the gene addition is to increase the amount of expressed antigen. In gene replacement, gene addition occurs but is accompanied by deletion of the existing copy of the gene. For instance, this approach was used in reference 207, where a bacterium's endogenous chromosomal fHbp gene was deleted and replaced by a plasmid-encoded copy (see also reference 221). Expression from the replacement copy is higher than from the previous copy, thus leading to up-regulation. In repressor knockout, a protein which represses expression of an antigen of interest is knocked out. Thus the repression does not occur and the antigen of interest can be expressed at a higher level. Promoters for up-regulated genes can advantageously include a CREN [222].

A modified strain will generally be isogenic with its parent strain, except for a genetic modification. As a result of the modification, expression of the antigen of interest in the modified strain is higher (under the same conditions) than in the parent strain. A typical modification will be to place a gene under the control of a promoter with which it is not found in nature and/or to knockout a gene which encodes a repressor.

In embodiments where NHBA is up-regulated, various approaches can be used. For convenience, the approach already reported in reference 181 can be used i.e. introduction of a NHBA gene under the control of an IPTG-inducible promoter. By this approach the level of expression of NHBA can be proportional to the concentration of IPTG added to a culture. The promoter may include a CREN.

In embodiments where NadA is up-regulated, various approaches can be used. One useful approach involves deletion of the gene encoding NadR (NMB1843), which is a transcriptional repressor protein [223] which down-regulates or represses the NadA-encoding gene in all strains tested. Knockout of NadR results in high-level constitutive expression of NadA. An alternative approach to achieve NadA up-regulation is to add 4-hydroxyphenylacetic to the culture medium. A further approach is to introduce a NadA gene under the control of an IPTG-inducible promoter.

Up-regulation of NhhA is already reported in references 209 and 224. Up-regulation of TbpA is already reported in references 209, 224 and 225. Up-regulation of HmbR is already reported in reference 196. Up-regulation of TbpB is already reported in reference 225. Up-regulation of NspA is already reported in reference 226, in combination with porA and cps knockout. Up-regulation of Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase is already reported in reference 225. Up-regulation of fHbp is already reported in references 205-207 & 221, and by a different approach (expressing a constitutively-active mutant FNR) in references 227 & 228.

In some embodiments each of NHBA, NadA and fHbp are up-regulated. These three antigens are components of the “universal vaccine” disclosed in reference 8 or “4CMenB” [229,230]. In one embodiment, expression of NHBA is controlled by a strong promoter, NadR is knocked out, and the strain expresses a constitutively active mutant FNR. In another embodiment, expression of NHBA is controlled by a strong promoter, expression of fHbp is controlled by a strong promoter, and NadR is knocked out. The bacterium can also be a bacterium which does not express an active MltA (GNA33), such that it spontaneously releases vesicles which contain NHBA, NadA and fHbp. Ideally, the bacterium does not express a native LPS e.g. it has a mutant or knockout of LpxL1.

The vesicles may include one, more than one, or (preferably) zero PorA serosubtypes. Modification of meningococcus to provide multi-PorA OMV is known e.g. from references 22 and 23. Conversely, modification to remove PorA is also known e.g. from reference 209.

The vesicles may be free from one of both of PorA and FrpB. Preferred vesicles are PorA-free.

The invention may be used with mixtures of vesicles from different strains. For instance, reference 24 discloses vaccine comprising multivalent meningococcal vesicle compositions, comprising a first vesicle derived from a meningococcal strain with a serosubtype prevalent in a country of use, and a second vesicle derived from a strain that need not have a serosubtype prevent in a country of use. Reference 25 also discloses useful combinations of different vesicles. A combination of vesicles from strains in each of the L2 and L3 immunotypes may be used in some embodiments.

Another useful combination of vesicles is disclosed in references 231 & 232. A trivalent mixture of this type can include vesicles prepared from each of: (a) a first strain which over-expresses NadA; (b) a second strain which over-expresses a fHbp sequence from variant 1 i.e. a first fHbp polypeptide sequence as defined above; and (c) a third strain which over-expresses a fHbp sequence from variant 2 i.e. a second fHbp polypeptide sequence as defined above. These strains can also have other modifications e.g. knockout of synX and LpxLJ, as disclosed in ref. 231.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A-1B show serum total IgG responses against tetanus toxoid. FIG. 1A shows the serum total IgG responses against tetanus toxoid at day 35. FIG. 1B shows the serum total IgG responses against tetanus toxoid at day 49.

FIGS. 2A-B show serum total IgG responses against diphtheria toxoid. FIG. 2A shows the serum total IgG responses against diphtheria toxoid at day 35. FIG. 2B shows the serum total IgG responses against diphtheria toxoid at day 49.

FIGS. 3A-B show serum total IgG responses against pertussis toxoid. FIG. 3A shows the serum total IgG responses against pertussis toxoid at day 35. FIG. 3B shows the serum total IgG responses against pertussis toxoid at day 49.

FIGS. 4A-B show serum total IgG responses against pertactin. FIG. 4A shows the serum total IgG responses against pertactin at day 35. FIG. 4B shows the serum total IgG responses against pertactin at day 49.

FIGS. 5A-B show serum total IgG responses against FHA. FIG. 5A shows the serum total IgG response against FHA at day 35. FIG. 5B shows the serum total IgG responses against FHA at day 49.

FIG. 6 shows serum total IgG responses against NadA.

FIG. 7 shows serum total IgG responses against NHBA.

FIG. 8 shows serum total IgG responses against fHbp.

The y-axis scale in all cases is 0.01 to 10,000.

MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

An immunogen combination was prepared, containing the following components:

ImmunogenAmount (per 0.5 ml)
TTetanus toxoid5Lf
DDiphtheria toxoid2Lf
aPPertussis toxoid, PT-9K/129G4μg
FHA4μg
Pertactin8μg
MenBNHBA (SEQ ID NO: 4)50μg
NadA (SEQ ID NO: 6)50μg
fHbp (SEQ ID NO: 19)50μg

For comparison purposes, an equivalent combination was prepared but without the MenB proteins. These two immunogen combinations are referred to as “TdaP-MenB” and “TdaP”.

These two combinations were adjuvanted with:

    • (a) aluminium hydroxide, 1 mg/dose (“Al—H”)
    • (b) aluminium hydroxide, 1 mg/dose, with 100 μg adsorbed ‘K2’ TLR7 agonist
    • (c) aluminium hydroxide, 1 mg/dose, with 100 μg adsorbed synthetic MPL TLR4 agonist
    • (d) MF59 squalene-containing oil-in-water emulsion.

All antigens were adsorbed to the Al—H in compositions (a) to (c) for both TdaP and TdaP-MenB, although pertactin was not fully adsorbed in compositions which include the MenB immunogens.

In addition to these four pairs of adjuvanted compositions, a further pair was unadjuvanted. This gave 10 compositions in total, (C1) to (C10):

No adjuvantAl—HAl—H/K2Al—H/MPLMF59
TdaPC1C2C3C4C5
TdaP-MenBC6C7C8C9C10

Furthermore, for comparison the BOOSTRIX™ product was also tested (“C11”), which contains (per 0.5 ml) 2.5 Lf of diphtheria toxoid, 5 Lf tetanus toxoid, and 18.5 μg acellular pertussis antigens (a mixture of purified PT, FHA and p69 pertactin), adjuvanted with a mixture of aluminium phosphate and hydroxide salts. Finally, an immunogen-free negative control of buffer alone was also prepared (“C12”).

These 12 compositions were administered to female Balb/C mice (6 weeks old) at 100 μl intramuscular doses (2×50 μl) on days 0, 21 and 35. Sera were tested 2 weeks after each dose and assessed for specific IgG responses against each of the 8 immunogens (except that only C6-C10 & C12 were tested for responses against the 3 MenB immunogens). These titers are shown in FIGS. 1-8. FIGS. 1-5 show data for days 35 (1A to 5A) and 49 (1B to 5B), whereas FIGS. 6-8 show data only for day 35.

The data show that the MenB antigens have no negative impact on IgG responses against the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis antigens after 2 or 3 doses. Furthermore, the inclusion of a TLR agonist with the Al—H adjuvant improved IgG responses against all antigens. The emulsion adjuvant also gave better results than Al—H alone. In all cases however, the adjuvants did not have a large impact on anti-PT responses.

The second dose of vaccine (day 21) led to an increase of IgG response against all antigens, but the third dose (day 35) did not provide a further significant increase. Thus the studied adjuvants provide a more rapid response to the re-injected antigens, which can be very useful in booster situations.

Thus the mixture of D, T, aP and MenB antigens offers a new and effective combination vaccine.

It will be understood that the invention has been described by way of example only and modifications may be made whilst remaining within the scope and spirit of the invention.

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