SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

New vaginal lactobacillus for neutralizing HIV-1 antibody fragments

Osel focuses on live biotherapeutic products specific to women’s health.
Osel focuses on live biotherapeutic products specific to women’s health. | File photo
Scientists from Osel Inc. and their partners have engineered a vaginal lactobacillus that is designed to generate neutralizing antibody fragments against HIV-1 infections.

The researchers see normal, predominant bacterial species within health vaginal microbiota as potential protection against transmissions of HIV-1 among women. Using Lactobacillus jensenii might help the body produce neutralizing antibody fragments against the virus.

"Most viruses enter the human body through muscosal surfaces, and in women, the vagina and cervix are the major sites of entry for HIV-1 during sexual intercourse," Dr. Laurel Lagenaur, senior study author and director of research at Osel, said. "Lactobacilli already play a protective role in the vagina by reducing inflammation, which is a risk factor for HIV infection. Engineering these bacteria to deliver HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies muscosally at the site where the virus first enters the body may offer a cost-effective and long-lasting new barrier to HIV-1 transmission that is different but compatible with current antiviral therapies, barrier methods or future vaccines."

This new approach is meant to prevent the infection from transmitting. It is just one part of the company’s ongoing development of live biotherapeutic products specific to women’s health.

"Engineered vaginal Lactobacilli with anti-HIV properties, like the delivery of neutralizing antibodies or antiviral proteins, offer considerable potential as Live Biotherapeutic Products for an important global health need -- reducing the heterosexual transmission of HIV in women," Osel Chief Executive Officer Dr. K.T. Moortgat said. "If successfully developed, Osel's MucoCept technology could provide an accessible and durable approach that could be used inexpensively, discretely, and in a way that enhances the natural protective effects of the vaginal microbiota. Osel's MucoCept technology is currently in preclinical development, and we expect to progress to clinical testing within the next two years.”

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