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Monoclonal Antibodies

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, India reached out to Australia to procure monoclonal antibody doses to combat the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala.
  • Notable researchers like Niels K. Jerne, Georges J.F. Köhler, and César Milstein were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1984 for their work on monoclonal antibodies.

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs)

  • Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins designed to mimic the behaviour of antibodies produced by the immune system.
  • They target specific antigens, usually disease-causing molecules, to help the immune system eliminate them from the body.
  • mAbs are engineered to attach to particular antigens, such as viral proteins.
  • 4 Monoclonal Antibody:
    • 4 is a “potent, fully human” monoclonal antibody that neutralizes Hendra and Nipah viruses.
    • It has passed phase-one clinical trials, demonstrating safety and effectiveness.
    • The drug is used on a ‘compassionate use’ basis when no other authorized treatment is available.
    • It was initially developed by Dr. Christopher Broder and his team at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) with support from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • Working of Monoclonal Antibodies:
    • Monoclonal antibodies are engineered to target specific diseases by binding to antigens, often proteins.
    • They prevent the antigen from performing its regular functions, including infection of other cells.
    • Initially, hybridoma technology was used to produce monoclonal antibodies in mice, but today, recombinant DNA technology is employed for their production.
  • Binding to Nipah Virus: 4 monoclonal antibody binds itself to the immunodominant receptor-binding glycoprotein of the Nipah virus, potentially neutralizing it.
  • Phase-One Clinical Trial:
    • A successful clinical safety trial with 40 volunteers was conducted between March 2015 and June 2016 for m102.4.
    • The study, led by Geoffery Playford of Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, demonstrated safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity.
    • It was a double-blind study with participants randomly receiving m102.4 or a placebo.
    • The most common side effect was a headache, and no severe effects or deaths were noted.
    • Results showed that single and repeated doses of m102.4 were well-tolerated and safe.
  • Regulatory Status:
    • The antibody has been available in Queensland State, Australia, since 2010 for treating Hendra virus infections.
    • As of 2020, it had been administered to 13 people on compassionate grounds.
    • Both Hendra and Nipah viruses are bat-borne Paramyxoviridae and are considered priority diseases by the World Health Organization.

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