Researchers have discovered a monoclonal antibody that is effective against “Avian” H5N1, seasonal H1N1, and the 2009 “Swine” H1N1 influenza. According to the findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, the antibody potently prevents and treats the Swine H1N1 influenza in mouse models of the disease.
Previous work on this antibody, A06, demonstrated “first in class” activity against the evolutionary distant Avian H5N1 and seasonal H1N1 influenzas. The researchers believe the antibody targets a conserved region of the viral coat protein, hemagluttinin, accounting for the extended breadth of activity against multiple, genetically distinct strains.
In this study, researchers isolated A06 from a combinational library derived from a survivor of highly pathogenic H5N1 infection. They demonstrated that the antibody is effective against 2009 pandemic influenza in a cell culture assay and also in mouse models of disease when given before and after lethal influenza infection.
The 2009 “Swine” H1N1 influenza pandemic pointed out the weaknesses in the current treatment options available to stop a more virulent pandemic. Vaccines take months to prepare and many strains of influenza are already resistant to small molecule treatments like Tamiflu. Antibodies, like A06, could provide a significant line of defense against a more serious pandemic threat and contribute to efforts to create a universal vaccine.
According to the researchers, this study demonstrates the therapeutic potential of monoclonal antibodies to protect and treat influenza. While the study was limited to mice, the activity is reflective of the potential benefit to humans.