Singapore researchers produce new antibody to combat flu, pneumonia

Researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have created and developed an antibody that has been shown to boost survival chances for patients suffering from the flu and pneumonia, Cell Reports said on Feb. 10.

The antibody has shown to be effective in lab tests and is now being designed for use in humans. NTU scientists are also using the new antibody to develop a diagnostic kit that can help physicians track the recovery progress of flu and pneumonia patients.

This new antibody was developed by NTU Singapore Associate Professor Andrew Tan.

"While it will take up to eight years to develop the antibody into a usable treatment for human patients, we are currently developing a diagnostic kit which should be commercialized in about three years," Tan said. "The kit will help doctors diagnose the severity of pneumonia and the efficacy of the prescribed treatment. This is done by detecting the concentration of a particular protein called ANGPTL4, which is present in samples taken from patients suffering from upper respiratory tract infections."

The way the new antibody works is that it blocks ANGPTL4, which was found in large volumes in the tissue samples taken from pneumonia patients.

"When the antibody we developed was given to mice suffering from pneumonia and influenza which had high levels of ANGPTL4, these mice recovered much faster than the other mice which didn't receive the antibodies," Tan said. "We know that ANGPTL4 usually helps to regulate blood vessel leakiness, but this is the first time we have shown that by blocking this protein, we are able to control the natural response of inflammation, which in turn reduces the damage that inflammation does to the lungs.

"The concentration of ANGPTL4 correlates to the amount of inflammation the patient is having. With our diagnostic kit, doctors will be able to see if a particular treatment is working for a patient. This is done by observing whether the concentration of ANGPTL4 is decreasing or not."

"This study reveals the potential diagnostic and therapeutic value of targeting ANGPTL4 in pneumonia, and warrants further detailed clinical investigation in pneumonia patients,” Chow said.

National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine Associate Professor Vincent Chow, a co-author of the paper, said the study is highly positive.