Lead investigator: Scott Dessain, PhD, MD
Rabies is a potentially lethal viral infection transmitted primarily by the bite of an infected animal. While mainly prevented by vaccines in the developed world, rabies is endemic in Asia and Africa. Uncontrolled infections cause brain inflammation, and manifestation of symptoms can cause death.
LIMR cloned six human monoclonal antibodies (huMabs) from infected individuals and efficiently cleared the infection in an animal model. These huMabs exhibit high potency and offer an opportunity for a novel passive vaccine to clear rabies in infected individuals. Clearance of rabies may be safer and more cost effective than treatment with existing passive vaccines obtained from equine sources. Moreover, unlike immune equine IgG, LIMR’s huMabs offer defined structural and biological characteristics and can be propagated indefinitely.
LIMR’s huMab have been cloned, and human hybridomas are stored. IgG genes have been sequenced and are ready for expression in any desired expression system. Preclinical proof of concept for viral clearance in an animal model has been obtained.
Rabies deaths are rare in the U.S. thanks to successful animal control and vaccination programs, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But around the world, rabies kills about 59,000 every year, almost half of whom are children age 15 and younger, according to the CDC. The most affected countries are in Africa and Asia where immune equine IgG from equine sources is used and where the LIMR huMabs offer competitive replacement.
The global market for rabies treatment was approximately $3.7 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $4.6 billion in 2021, according to the market research firm Technavio.
Intellectual property position
Pending patent: U.S. provisional patent filed on the huMab IgG sequences and uses.
Nagarajan T, Rupprecht CE, Dessain SK, Rangarajan PN, Thiagarajan D, Srinivasan VA. (2008). Human monoclonal antibody and vaccine approaches to prevent human rabies. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 317:67-101.