Pregnancy :: New Antibody-Based Treatment May Facilitate Mother-to-Child Antiretroviral Immunity

A new study suggests that mothers may be able to transfer antiretroviral immunity during gestation and while breastfeeding when receiving a new antibody-based treatment say researchers from France. They report their findings in the October 2006 issue of the Journal of Virology.

Monoclonal antibodies (MAb) are now the largest class of engineered proteins in the medical field, with 19 already approved by the FDA for human use. With more than 400 others involved in human clinical trials researchers are looking to apply this new therapeutic format to cancer and immune defects, as well as infectious diseases.

The FrCas (E) retrovirus is a neurodegenerative disease that led to death within 1 to 2 months when mice were infected at 5 to 6 days old. In the study researchers investigated whether the antibodies from MAb 667-treated mothers with strong anti-FrCas (E) immune responses could affect the immune systems of their FrCAS (E) infected pups following placental and/or breastfeeding transfer. Results showed reduction in the viral load and protective antiviral response from breastfeeding alone as well as placental transfer. Researchers also found that placental transfer protected animals infected neonatally and initiated a neutralizing anti-FrCas (E) response.

“Our data support the concept that passive immunotherapies during late gestation and/or breastfeeding might help retrovirally infected neonates prime their own protective immune responses, in addition to exerting an immediate antiviral effect,” say the researchers.

(L. Gros, M. Pelegrin, M. Plays, M. Piechaczyk. 2006. Efficient mother-to-child transfer of antiretroviral immunity in the context of preclinical monoclonal antibody-based immunotherapy. Journal of Virology, 80.20: 10191-10200.)

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