, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 693-701

CPG 7909, an Immunostimulatory TLR9 Agonist Oligodeoxynucleotide, as Adjuvant to Engerix-B® HBV Vaccine in Healthy Adults: A Double-Blind Phase I/II Study

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Oligodeoxynucleotides containing immunostimulatory CpG motifs (CpG ODN) act as potent Th1-like immune enhancers with many antigens in animal models. We have extended these observations to the first clinical evaluation of the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of CPG 7909 when added to a commercial HBV vaccine. In a randomized, double-blind phase I dose escalation study, healthy volunteers aged 18–35 years were vaccinated at 0, 4 and 24 weeks by intramuscular injection with Engerix-B® (GlaxoSmithKline). The regular adult dose of 20 μg recombinant hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) adsorbed to alum was administered mixed with saline (control) or with CPG 7909 at one of three doses (0.125, 0.5 or 1.0 mg). HBsAg-specific antibody responses (anti-HBs) appeared significantly sooner and were significantly higher at all timepoints up to and including 24 weeks in CPG 7909 recipients compared to control subjects (p⩽0.001). Strikingly, most CpG 7909-vaccinated subjects developed protective levels of anti-HBs IgG within just two weeks of the priming vaccine dose. A trend towards higher rates of positive cytotoxic T cell lymphocyte responses was noted in the two higher dose groups of CPG 7909 compared to controls. The most frequently reported adverse events were injection site reactions, flu-like symptoms and headache. While these were more frequent in CPG 7909 groups than in the control group (p<0.0001), most were reported to be of mild to moderate intensity regardless of group. In summary, CPG 7909 as an adjuvant to Engerix-B was well-tolerated and enhanced vaccine immunogenicity. CPG 7909 may allow the development of a two-dose prophylactic HBV vaccine.