Researchers isolate human antibody that neutralizes four different viruses

August 20, 2013, Universita della Svizzera italiana

A publication in the renowned scientific journal Nature describes a unique human monoclonal antibody (MPE8) discovered by the Swiss Biotech company Humabs BioMed SA in collaboration with the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) which is affiliated to the Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI).

MPE8, a unique antibody that neutralizes different viruses

MPE8 is the first neutralizing antibody that targets four different human and animal viruses, in particular the (RSV) and the metapneumovirus (MPV) that cause severe lower . MPE8 represents a new promising drug for the prophylaxis as well as for the therapy of respiratory infections in infants and immunosuppressed patients. MPE8 also identifies a conserved structure shared by different viruses, which could lead to the development of a new vaccine capable of conferring protection against multiple viruses.

High medical need to treat patients infected by RSV and MPV viruses

RSV and MPV are a prominent cause of ranging from common cold to severe infection of the and have been implicated in the development of asthma. RSV and MPV infections can be fatal in newborns and in immunosuppressed patients who have undergone stem cell or with a mortality up to 40%. A humanized antibody to RSV (Synagis) is currently used for prophylaxis in , but is not effective therapeutically. There are no antibodies to prevent MPV infection. Furthermore, vaccines against RSV and MPV are not available. Given the high prevalence of these pathogens and the severity of the diseases caused, there is a strong medical need to develop novel therapies against these .

MPE8 antibody hits the "Achilles' heel" of the viruses

Davide Corti, Head of antibody discovery at Humabs BioMed and first author of the study comments: "This is a remarkable example of the power of the Humabs discovery platform to select, from the human immune response, antibodies with unique properties. Out of the several antibodies identified that neutralized either RSV or MPV, MPE8 was the only one that potently neutralized both viruses. Surprisingly, MPE8 is also active against two other paramyxoviruses of animal origin: bovine RSV and pneumonia virus of mice. Importantly we have been able to test MPE8 in a relevant animal model and found that the antibody has not only prophylactic but also therapeutic activity in a situation where ribavirin, the only antiviral drug available to treat with limited efficacy severe infections in humans, is ineffective. MPE8 antibody binds to the viral fusion protein in a site that is conserved among different viruses and represents a kind of "Achilles' heel" of these viruses. We hope to be able to use this information to develop a new vaccine capable of protecting against multiple viruses".

Antonio Lanzavecchia, director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine; Professor of Human Immunology at the ETH Zurich, scientific founder of Humabs and senior author of the study comments: "After the isolation of an antibody that neutralizes all human and animal influenza viruses – that we reported two years ago in the journal Science – the identification of MPE8, which neutralizes 4 different paramixoviruses, is a further demonstration of the potential of the antibody discovery technologies that we developed 10 years ago. At that time nobody would have expected that antibodies with such potency and breadth of neutralization could exist. MPE8 is the first antibody that can neutralize viruses belonging to different species. Given its potency and breadth, we are confident that MPE8 represents a strong candidate for prophylaxis and therapy of these life threatening infections".

Exemplary cooperation between university and industry

The discovery of MPE8 is the result of a close collaboration between the IRB, a non-profit Institute performing basic research, and its spin-off, Humabs BioMed, which has licensed the antibody discovery technology developed at IRB and has the resources to bring the antibody to the clinic. This also includes discussions with potential pharmaceutical partners interested in the clinical development of the antibody. IRB and Humabs are complementing each other in promoting the medical progress in the treatment of infectious and other debilitating diseases.

Alcide Barberis, President and CEO of Humabs comments: "This work is an example of the successful and long lasting partnership between the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) and Humabs and confirms the potential of our Humabs discovery platform to select highly effective human monoclonal . The exciting results published in Nature showing the unique properties of the discovered antibody have raised high interest among clinicians in the field. Synagis (a humanized antibody) is the only RSV-treatment on the market with annual sales close to 1 billion USD. The pool of patients who may need novel RSV and MPV therapies is considerably larger than the group that is currently treated with Synagis. Over the next decade the market could expand to reach at-risk adults, elderly and children suffering from acute infections. Humabs is in discussions with pharmaceutical companies that have shown interest in bringing the antibody into clinical stages of development."

Explore further: Humabs discovers the first antibody to neutralize both group 1 and group 2 influenza A viruses

More information: Corti et al. Cross-neutralization of four paramyxoviruses by a human monoclonal antibody, Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature12442. Advance Online Publication (AOP) on http://www.nature.com/nature

Related Stories

Humabs discovers the first antibody to neutralize both group 1 and group 2 influenza A viruses

July 28, 2011
A paper published today in the scientific research journal Science, describes a novel, proprietary monoclonal antibody (FI6) discovered in a collaboration between Humabs BioMed SA, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine ...

Study offers clues to making vaccine for infant respiratory illness

April 25, 2013
An atomic-level snapshot of a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) protein bound to a human antibody represents a leap toward developing a vaccine for a common—and sometimes very serious—childhood disease. The findings, ...

One step closer to vaccine for common respiratory disease

June 17, 2013
Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to respiratory syncytial virus. The three-dimensional structure of respiratory syncytial virus has been solved by an international team from Finland and Switzerland.

Study reveals clues to childhood respiratory virus

February 13, 2013
New Vanderbilt-led research published in the Feb. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has identified the relatively unknown human metapneumovirus (MPV) as the second most common cause of severe bronchiolitis in ...

Research suggests transmission of respiratory viruses in utero

April 18, 2013
The most common cause of lower respiratory tract infections in infants and young children, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), can be transferred during pregnancy to an unborn baby, according to Cleveland Clinic Children's ...

Recommended for you

Discovery of inner ear function may improve diagnosis of hearing impairment

October 15, 2018
Results from a research study published in Nature Communications show how the inner ear processes speech, something that has until now been unknown. The authors of the report include researchers from Linköping University, ...

Team's study reveals hidden lives of medical biomarkers

October 12, 2018
What do medical biomarkers do on evenings and weekends, when they might be considered off the clock?

Widespread errors in 'proofreading' cause inherited blindness

October 12, 2018
Mistakes in "proofreading" the genetic code of retinal cells is the cause of a form of inherited blindness, retinitis pigmentosa (RP) caused by mutations in splicing factors.

Researchers create a functional salivary gland organoid

October 11, 2018
A research group led by scientists from Showa University and the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research in Japan have, for the first time, succeeded in growing three-dimensional salivary gland tissue that, when implanted ...

Lassa fever vaccine shows promise and reveals new test for immunity

October 11, 2018
Lassa fever belongs to the same class of hemorrhagic fevers as Ebola. Like Ebola, it has been a major health threat in Western Africa, infecting 100,000-300,000 people and killing 5,000 per year. A new vaccine against both ...

Genetically engineered 3-D human muscle transplant in a murine model

October 10, 2018
A growing need for tissues and organs in surgical reconstruction is addressed by the promising field of tissue engineering. For instance, muscle atrophy results from severe traumatic events including deep burns and cancer, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.