Scientists have developed a method to artificially produce specific human antibodies which can be used to treat a wide range of diseases and facilitate the development of new vaccines.
A team of researchers led by Facundo Batista of Francis Crick Institute in London and Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard have been able to produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory.
The technique, described in a paper published on Monday in ‘The Journal of Experimental Medicine’, could speed the production of antibodies by body’s ‘B-cells’ that fight off infections by bacteria, viruses, and other invasive pathogens.
“Specifically, it should allow the production of these antibodies within a shorter time frame ‘in vitro’ and without the need for vaccination or blood/serum donation from recently infected or vaccinated individuals,” said Batista.
Apart from specific antigen, ‘B-cells’ also need DNA fragments called ‘CpG Oligonucleotides’ to start proliferating and developing into plasma cells, which the team has managed to produce.
“Our method offers the potential to accelerate the development of new vaccines by allowing the efficient evaluation of candidate target antigens,” he added.
The team successfully demonstrated their approach using various bacterial and viral antigens including the tetanus toxoid and proteins from several strains of ‘influenza A’.
In each case, they were able to produce specific, high-affinity antibodies in just a few days. Some of the anti-influenza antibodies generated by the technique recognised multiple strains of the virus and were able to neutralise its ability to infect cells.
The procedure does not depend on the donors having been previously exposed to any of these antigens through vaccination or infection.
The researchers were able to generate anti-HIV antibodies from ‘B-cells’ isolated from HIV-free patients.