TORONTO : Scientists have developed an innovative antibody delivery method that could offer an effective way to prevent and treat Ebola infection. More than 11,000 people died during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2013-16, demonstrating both the deadly nature of the virus and the limitations of the medication used to fight it.
The researchers demonstrated that delivering a monoclonal antibody gene to a cell using through a viral vector callled adeno-associated virus (AAV) — a process that bypasses the need for the host to generate a natural immune response — provided up to 100 per cent protection against infection in mice.
The mice expressed the antibody for more than 300 days, revealed the study appearing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
“If you use an AAV gene therapy vector to deliver the DNA blueprint to a cell, that cell will produce a protective antibody against Ebola virus, which is then secreted into the bloodstream and protects mice from infection,” said Sarah Wootton, Professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
Once the antibody gene is delivered, antibodies will be continually produced in the bloodstream.
“We are hoping to use this technology in a post-exposure scenario. Let’s say someone has been exposed to Ebola. The idea would be to give them this AAV vector to start producing the antibodies that prevent death,” Wootton noted.
Other researchers have used AAV extensively to treat a variety of genetic disorders.
The US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved an AAV gene therapy to treat a rare retinal disorder.