Research into hantavirus treatments shows purified antibodies can protect against disease

SAB Biotherapeutics, Inc., (SAB) and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) are currently working to develop antibodies that protect against the deadly hantavirus.

The organizations recently published their work in the Nov. 26 web edition of "Science Translational Medicine."

The research conducted by SAB and USAMRIID involved “transchomosomal” cows, or Tc Bovine that are designed to produce human antibodies. During the research, the cows were immunized with vaccines that targeted the Andes virus and Sin Nombre virus. Next, researchers collected specimens from the cows, in this case plasma, and tested it to find out if it could neutralize the two viruses.

The purified antibodies had “potent neutralizing activity against both hantaviruses,” the paper’s first author, Jay W. Hooper of USAMRIID, said.

Hooper’s team used hamsters to assess the efficiency of this treatment. Their research revealed that all but one of the hamsters survived with no sign of disease, particularly the lethal Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). Those in the control group developed HPS.

This is not the first study of Tc Bovine’s efficiency against the hantavirus. Similar experiments demonstrated that the antibodies protected against diseases caused by the Sin Nombre virus. This virus was linked with 2012 Hantavirus outbreaks in Yosemite National Park two years ago.

Tc Bovine could be an option to create antibodies that the human body will not reject. This is good news because human immune plasma from HPS survivors is in short supply.

“This study represents the first time that DNA vaccines have been used to produce a hyperimmunized response in a human antibody-producing large animal species” Dr. Eddie Sullivan, president and CEO of SAB Biotherapeutics, Inc, said. “This technology can be used to rapidly respond to many types of diseases as the development time from first vaccination to high-titer fully human polyclonal antibody is just a few months.”

The next step is to test antibodies in primates and to obtain approval for phase I clinical trials in humans. Sullivan said that he believes trials could begin in 2015 for hantavirus.

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