Lead investigator: Scott Dessain, PhD, MD

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis (ANRE) is a disorder associated with significant psychiatric manifestations. It can lead to seizures, hallucinations, confusion, memory loss, uncontrollable body movements, and can even be fatal. ANRE occurs when the body’s immune system attacks brain cells.

ANRE can be cured if it is identified early and appropriately treated, but the only currently available diagnostic test cannot be performed in most clinical laboratories. Needed are diagnostic reagents that can definitively diagnose or rule out this particular disorder in patients who present with psychiatric symptoms. Specifically, a diagnosis requires antibodies to be detected in the bodily fluids of a patient with symptoms consistent with ANRE.

Technology description

The LIMR human monoclonal antibody (huMab) can reliably detect native membrane-bound forms of the NMDA receptor in CNS tissue. Additionally, methods for its use have been generated as a tool to diagnose autoimmune encephalitis caused by the production of anti-NMDA receptor antibodies.

The LIMR huMab has the unique ability to recognize native configurations of the NMDA receptor on the tissue cell surfaces not visualized by other antibodies available to this antigen. These configurations overlap with those recognized by the autoimmune antibodies produced in the disease, enabling a reliable diagnostic test based on competition with autoimmune serum from patients.

Based on its unique attributes, the LIMR huMab enables a diagnostic test for autoimmune encephalitis caused by auto-antibodies that bind the NMDA receptor. Clinical proof of concept was demonstrated for LIMR’s huMab in a patient confirmed to have ANRE (see Relevant publication).

Business opportunity

The number of patients diagnosed with ANRE is unknown. About 30 percent of patients are children and teenagers, and females are affected more often than males, according to the Encephalitis Society.

Intellectual property position

IgG sequences will be protected pending commercial interest.

Relevant publications

Sharma R, Al-Saleem FH, Puligedda RD, Rattelle A, Lynch DR, Dessain SK. (2018). Membrane-bound and soluble forms of an NMDA receptor extracellular domain retain epitopes targeted in autoimmune encephalitis. BMC Biotechnol. Jun 27;18(1):41.

Sharma R, Al-Saleem FH, Panzer J, Lee J, Puligedda RD, Felicori LF, Kattala CD, Rattelle AJ, Ippolito G, Cox RH, Lynch DR, Dessain SK. (2018) Monoclonal antibodies from a patient with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. Jul 5;5(8):935-51.