The strategy employs chains of binding agents, like “beads on a string”, which target two sites on one or more pathogenic molecules to neutralize their activity and promote their clearance by the body’s immune system.
The low-cost, easy-to-replicate tool has demonstrated applications against several different toxins, from those found in contaminated food to those used in bioterrorism, and may also prove effective in targeting other types of pathogens.
The research team, based at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, demonstrated the method’s efficacy in preventing the symptoms of botulism, a rare but deadly disease caused by Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), considered one of the most dangerous bioterror threat agents. The findings were presented earlier this year in PLoS ONE.
“Currently, antitoxins are difficult to produce and have a short shelf life, making them very expensive. This new approach provides a low-cost way to develop highly effective antitoxins,” said senior author Charles B. Shoemaker, PhD, professor of biomedical sciences at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
“This method has the potential to target a number of pathogens – not only toxins such as BoNT, but viruses or inflammatory cytokines. It is an important platform through which to address other significant diseases,” says co-author Saul Tzipori, BVSc., DSc, PhD, professor of biomedical sciences and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Cummings School.
Shoemaker and team had earlier found that pools of small ‘tagged’ binding agents were highly effective in targeting toxins, neutralizing their function, and flagging them for removal via the body’s immune system in the presence of an anti-tag monoclonal antibody.
In the newly published in vivo study, the researchers have advanced this approach by linking two BoNT-binding agents together and including two copies of the tag. The binding agents are small, stable proteins derived genetically from unusual antibodies produced by toxin-immune alpacas. The resulting molecule, called a ‘double-tagged heterodimer,’ binds to two separate sites on the toxin. Binding of this single heterodimeric agent much more effectively neutralizes the toxin than the unlinked monomer binding agents used in the prior research. In addition, attaching two tags to each of the two linked agents leads to toxin decoration by up to four anti-tag monoclonal antibodies, which promotes rapid toxin clearance from the blood, the researchers found (see figure).
The double-tagged heterodimer antitoxin agent strategy was shown to be efficacious against two types of BoNT in the PLoS ONE report. The antitoxin agents were administered at the time of exposure, or shortly after. Treated mice did not show any symptoms of botulism – including the lethal paralysis which characterizes the disease, even when exposed to high toxin doses. Thus, the benefits of complex antitoxins were equaled or bettered by administration of two easy-to-produce agents; a heterodimer binding agent and an anti-tag monoclonal antibody.
According to Shoemaker, a major advantage of this approach is that, unlike treatments that only neutralize toxins, this treatment both neutralizes toxins and ensures their rapid clearance from the body. “Agents that only neutralize their pathogenic target will eventually dissociate which will allow the pathogen to continue doing damage if it is not eliminated,” he said.
The group has now successfully taken the research further by building longer strings of binding agents that target multiple toxins with a single molecule—for example, the two types of Shiga toxins that are produced by some E. coli found in contaminated foods or the two toxins produced by hospital-acquired C. difficile infections.
The work was funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Intramural Research Program of the NIAID.
Additional authors on the paper are co-first authors Jean Mukherjee and Jacqueline M. Tremblay; and Kwasi Ofori, Karen Baldwin, Xiochuan Feng, all in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, and Daniela Bedenice of the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Cummings School. Clinton E. Leysath, of the NIAID, and Robert P. Webb, Patrick M. Wright, and Leonard A. Smith, all of the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, also contributed.
Mukherjee J, Tremblay JM, Leysath CE, Ofori K, Baldwin K, et al. “A Novel Strategy for Development of Recombinant Antitoxin Therapeutics Tested in a Mouse Botulism Model.” PLoS ONE 7(1): e29941. Published online January 6, 2012, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029941About the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Attending BIO? Please stop by our booth (#301) to learn more about the innovative work done at the Cummings School, including clinical trials, infectious disease vaccine and therapy research and more.
Thomas Keppeler | Newswise Science News
One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology