ADARC expands antibody prevention strategy
ADARC, in partnership with the Tulane University National Primate Research Center and Sino Biological, Inc. and with major support from a new grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is embarking on a project to develop and test a new strategy based on a monoclonal antibody that can prevent HIV infection.
studies have shown that antiviral drugs can protect against HIV
infection if taken daily. However, the adherence challenges of such a
demanding regimen may limit their feasibility. The use of monoclonal
antibodies that can be administered less frequently would create a
much-needed alternative in the field of HIV prevention. Dr. Ho's
laboratory has been working to develop ibalizumab, an antibody that
binds to the CD4 cell receptor, for HIV prevention since 2009. A phase 1
trial to evaluate its safety in healthy individuals is underway, with
plans to advance it into a phase 2a trial in the next year.
Ho and colleagues will engineer bi-specific molecules where ibalizumab
is genetically fused to other HIV-neutralizing antibody-like molecules.
By doing so, his lab is striving to improve the breadth, potency and
long-lasting effect of traditional monoclonal antibodies in order to
create an HIV preventive that could be administered once every two
months. Scientists will develop and test different molecules in the
laboratory in order to identify the most potent and broad-acting to
advance into tests in animals. The selected molecule will then be
manufactured for formal preclinical studies with the goal of preparing
the lead candidate for a Phase 1 clinical trial.
parallel, the team will work to develop a gene-transfer method so that
DNA encoding the bi-specific molecules can be injected directly into a
healthy person, then use the body's own cells to produce the
HIV-protective molecules. This new technology will allow for an
even longer-lasting and more cost-efficient product which would have a
huge impact, especially in the developing world.
successful, these novel molecules have the potential to change the face
of HIV prevention and generate antiviral agents that are safe,
long-lasting, and incredibly potent. We are grateful to the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting our pursuit of this exciting and
promising strategy," said Dr. Ho