Pathogens for which the human population has no pre-existing or vaccine-induced immunity and which pose a significant threat to public health, require rapid and cost effective countermeasures to block transmission and mitigate disease. One such method that has proven successful is the administration of neutralizing antibodies to patients as a means of pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis. While effective, and often the only treatment option available, production of clinical grade MAbs is a labor-intensive process with considerable technical challenges, and immunity does not last long. One way to circumvent the obstacles associated with passive immunization is to use the host to “manufacture” neutralizing MAbs in vivo, by employing a method called vectored immunoprophylaxis (VIP). VIP produces full-length antibodies that are identical in sequence to those produced by the immune system. VIP involves a single intramuscular injection of an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector expressing genes encoding pathogen‑specific broadly neutralizing MAbs leading to continuous and sustained secretion of antibodies into the circulation and protection against infection. We are currently developing a vectored immunoprophylaxis approach for the protection against Ebola virus infection in humans. The long-term objective of this project is to employ the use of AAV vectors to promote prolonged in vivo expression of protective neutralizing antibodies (ZMab) against Ebola virus at therapeutic levels from a single intramuscular injection with the ultimate goal of preventing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in humans.
- Dr. Gary Kobinger, Laval University
- Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, Public Health Agency of Canada