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Novel antibody prevents infection by hepatitis C virus
Date:5/5/2009

Boston, Mass. Taking aim at a leading cause of liver failure in the United States, a team of scientists at the Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories (MBL) of the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) has developed a human monoclonal antibody that neutralizes the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). The new antibody effectively neutralized the virus in culture, and then prevented infection by the virus in a pre-clinical animal model of the disease.

Details of the research were presented April 23 in Copenhagen, Denmark at the 44th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL). "We are pleased with the progress of this program," said Donna Ambrosino, MD, executive director of the MBL and a professor of pediatrics at the Medical School. "This antibody shows significant efficacy against the virus."

In the current study, MBL scientists injected transgenic mice (HuMAb Mouse technology, Medarex, Inc.) with elements of HCV and then painstakingly searched for individual human antibodies produced in the mice that would recognize and bind to the HCV's outer coat, known as the glycoprotein. Once they found human antibodies that looked promising, they evaluated in vitro the ability of those antibodies to neutralize the virus and selected a lead candidate antibody for further characterization. Collaborative work with clinical researchers from the Department of Medicine at the Medical School's Worcester campus demonstrated that this antibody, now known as MBL-HCV1, was able to bind tightly with all genotypes of HCV tested from infected patient samples.

MBL-HCV1 was then tested off-site on three non-human primates. In that study, one animal received no antibody, one a low dose of the new antibody, and one a higher dose. Then all three animals were exposed to HCV. The animals with low or no antibody dosages developed HCV infections, but the animal with the higher dose was protected. Subsequently, researchers gave the
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Contact: Michael Cohen
michael.cohen@umassmed.edu
508-868-4778
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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