Swiss researchers identify universal antibody that eleminates all influenza A virus types


Bellinzona – Using a novel technology, Swiss researchers for the very first time have identified an antibody that targets all of the existing 16 hemagglutinin (HA) epitopes expressed on influenza A viruses and thus provides a universal flu treatment (Science, doi: 10.1126/science.1205669). The immunologists under Antonio Lanziavecchia from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine have filed for two patents (PCT/IB/2009/007375 and PCT/US2009/051851) and in this March founded the company HuMAbs BioMed S.A. to exploit their findings. Using a novel single cell culture method for plasma cells, the researchers screened B cells from 8 patients, who had been infected with different influenza A strains. After having screened more than 100.000 plasma cells they found the FI6 antibody that conferred protection to mice and ferrets from infections with flu viruses independently from which HA type was expressed at its surface. Structural analyses revealed that the antibody acted through binding and stabilisation of a conserved HA epitope in the F subdomain. The new screening technique for such rare antibodies is based on IL-6 supported stabilisation of human plasma cells and subsequent high throughput binding assays. According to Lanziaveccia, the antibody could pave the way for the development of a universal vaccine, which mimicks the effect of F16, against influenza A viruses – the bugs behind swine flu, bird flu and winter flu. According to Lanziavecchia, in humans reduction of the viral load by 10% could help stop people getting sick. Up to now, all major flu outbreaks were causes by viruses belonging to the influenza A class, which show higher variability in their hemagglutinin and neuraminidase surface antigens than influenza B viruses.



Basel/Hinxton (UK) – Two European teams have created huge repositories of cancer genomics data that help predict drug response. Swiss Novartis and the Boston-based Broad Institute have combined data obtained from large-scale...



London/Lausanne – The global private equity firm Celtic Therapeutic L.L.L.P. believes in the power of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). It is investing $50m in a new Switzerland-based company called ADC Therapeutics Sarl which...



Basel/Vienna - Following promising results from a Phase III study, Roche has submitted a regulatory application to EMA for subcutaneous Herceptin (trastuzumab) to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. Roche said subcutaneous...



After the US Food & Drug Administration forced Swiss generics giant Sandoz AG to update its production facilities in Quebec, there are now fears that supplies of some medicines could grow tight in Canada. The regulatory authority...



The hepatitis C space has seen a string of large deals in the last weeks that include a US$11bn buyout of Pharmasset by Gilead. Now Novartis is also trying to get in the game with the purchase of a global exclusive licence from...



Allschwil – Swiss Actelion Ltd. has strengthened its commercial offerings by securing rights in certain countries to Auxilium’s biotech drug Xiaflex for treating tissue buildup under the skin. The US pharma is to receive US$10m...



Zug – Life Sciences specialist HBM partners has raised €90m in the first close of its HBM BioCapital II fund, which will invest in revenue-generating companies in the pharmaceuticals, medical device and diagnostics sectors....



Stans – Mondobiotech, a drug discovery company in troubled waters, could soon be under Italian ownership: The Swiss biotech announced it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Milan-based provider of pharmaceutical and...

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