Article in Science provides template for advanced vaccine and immunotherapeutic design against Lassa Fever, a major threat to global health
Zalgen Labs LLC (Zalgen), a biotechnology and diagnostics company focused on high-impact, neglected infectious diseases including Lassa Fever (LF), today announced that its human monoclonal antibodies were used in an extensive research collaboration of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium (VHFC) and the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium (VIC) to elucidate the native, trimerized glycoprotein complex (GPC) of the Lassa virus. Utilizing antibodies from Zalgen and Tulane University (Tulane) coupled to the Lassa virus GPC, researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and other VHFC and VIC affiliated organizations successfully characterized the first high-resolution image of an arenavirus glycoprotein in its native trimer structure, expanding the capability for developing significantly more effective medical countermeasures. This first-in-class seminal study will be published in the June 2, 2017 issues of the journal Science (Hastie et al.)
Several Zalgen/Tulane antibodies have demonstrated effectiveness as immunotherapeutics. Zalgen’s first immunotherapeutic candidate, Arevirumab-3 demonstrated 100 percent efficacy in treating infected animals using two relevant model systems, and will advance to pre-clinical development, with projected Phase I studied within three years. The newly solved Lassa virus GPC trimer will also enable the design of better vaccines to elicit successful antibodies in recipients.
Lassa fever is a dangerous, often fatal disease common to much of West Africa with children and pregnant women being the highest risk groups; early stages of the disease are difficult to distinguish from other diseases. Lassa fever is spread by contact with infected rodents and is estimated to infect 300,000 to 500,000 people per year across the region, with at least 5,000 deaths reported annually. The illness is characterized by bleeding and coagulation abnormalities, with mortality rates reported exceeding 25 percent and reaching 50 percent during epidemics.
“The completion of this pivotal structural study is key to advancing Arevirumab-3 as well as the other therapeutic and vaccine agents in our development pipeline,” said Luis M Branco, Ph.D., Managing Director and Co-Founder of Zalgen Labs. “We will continue to work with our VHFC and VIC partners here in the U.S. and in West Africa in advancing hemorrhagic fever technology to address this global need.”
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants 1U 19AI109732-01, R21 AI116112 and T32 GM007491, and by the Burroughs Welcome Fund.
About Zalgen Labs
Zalgen Labs is a biotechnology and diagnostics company with headquarters in Germantown, Md., and an advanced diagnostic product development center in Aurora, Colo. The company specializes in the design and production of superior biological molecules critical for the development and commercialization of immunotherapeutics, novel vaccines, and reliable, rapid and affordable diagnostic platforms targeting neglected and underrepresented human infectious diseases. For more information, visit www.zalgenlabs.com.
About the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium
The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium was established in 2014 to develop life-saving antibody therapeutics against some of the world’s deadliest viruses. The VIC represents a field-wide collaboration in which leading laboratories around the world have united to understand what features lead to antibody-mediated protection against these viruses and how we can more rapidly discover ideal treatments. This collaborative effort allows each laboratory to contribute their strengths in analytical techniques towards the identification, characterization, and validation of antibodies against the filoviridae and arenaviridae families. From isolating novel antibodies and testing them in vivo, to the structural analysis of the molecular mechanisms of neutralization, VIC scientists contribute unique insights towards the overall characterization of a broad pool of antibodies. The consortium is funded through a National Institute of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Centers for Excellence in Translational Research program grant. For more information, visit www.vic.org.
About the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium
The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium was established in 2010 as a result of several multi-year grants and contracts awarded to Tulane University by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support Tulane’s ongoing efforts to treat and prevent Lassa fever. For more information, visit www.vhfc.org.
Zalgen Company Contact
Luis M. Branco, Ph.D. – Managing Director and Co-Founder
Phone (720) 859-3550