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BUSM professor awarded $13.3 million to study potential treatments to prevent STDs

(Boston) Deborah Anderson, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) is co-leading a new study funded by a five-year $13.3 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Anderson will investigate the vaginal use of human monoclonal antibodies manufactured transiently in tobacco plants (called "plantibodies") to prevent sexually transmitted infections caused by Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

The production of human monoclonal antibodies and other proteins in plants is intended to provide a low-cost and large-capacity manufacturing system that could ensure an affordable supply of antibodies, vaccines and other biopharmaceuticals for at-risk populations throughout the world, including developing countries.

The research team will develop ring, film and barrier formulations to deliver the antibodies and conduct preclinical testing in vitro and in vivo using animal models to evaluate safety and antimicrobial (HSV, HIV) efficacy. The plantibodies will be tested for safety and duration of activity in a human pre-phase I clinical trial as a first step towards their use as vaginal microbicides to prevent HSV and HIV infections in women.

"We hope that this research will lead to novel ways of preventing sexually transmitted diseases, which are epidemic in the US and worldwide and have far reaching health, social and economic consequences," said Anderson. "In addition, we will be breaking ground for the potential use of plantibodies to prevent other diseases caused by pathogens that cross mucosal membranes, such as rhinoviruses (common cold) and influenza (flu), as well as dangerous emerging pathogens like the Ebola virus (hemorrhagic fever)."

The grant was awarded through the NIAID-funded Integrated Preclinical/Clinical Program for HIV Topical Microbicides. Kevin Whaley, PhD, at Mapp Biopharmaceuticals in San Diego and Thomas Moench, MD, at ReProtect Inc. in Baltimore, are the main collaborators on this research study.

The research will be conducted by a consortium of investigators at Boston University Medical Campus, University of North Carolina, Johns Hopkins University, Brown University, Emory University, Fenway Community Health, ReProtect LLC, Kentucky BioProcessing LLC, Auritec Pharmaceuticals Inc., Aridis Pharmaceuticals and Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.


Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary
Boston University Medical Center

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