The significant public health problem of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been partially addressed with the advent of directly acting antiviral agents (DAAs). However, the development of an effective preventative vaccine would have a significant impact on HCV incidence and would represent a major advance towards controlling and possibly eradicating HCV globally. We previously reported a genotype 1a HCV viral-like particle (VLP) vaccine that produced neutralizing antibodies (NAb) and T cell responses to HCV. To advance this approach, we produced a quadrivalent genotype 1a/1b/2a/3a HCV VLP vaccine to produce broader immune responses. We show that this quadrivalent vaccine produces antibody and NAb responses together with strong T and B cell responses in vaccinated mice. Moreover, selective neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies (HuMAbs) targeting conserved antigenic domain B and D epitopes of the E2 protein bound strongly to the HCV VLPs, suggesting that these critical epitopes are expressed on the surface of the particles. Our findings demonstrate that a quadrivalent HCV VLP based vaccine induces broad humoral and cellular immune responses that will be necessary for protection against HCV. Such a vaccine could provide a substantial addition to highly active antiviral drugs in eliminating HCV.
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