Jeffrey Cohen (NIAID)
Michael Joyce (NIAID)
Wei Bu (NIAID)
According to the World Health Organization, over 90% of the worldwide population is infected with Epstein-Barr virus by adulthood. In most cases, the disease accompanying initial infection is subclinical though some individuals who are infected as adolescents or adults do experience infectious mononucleosis. However, once infected, individuals carry latent EBV for their remaining lifespan. In such individuals, immune suppression can result in reactivation of the EBV and consequently, EBV-associated lymphoproliferative disease. Currently, there is no prophylactic to prevent primary EBV infection and additional therapeutics would be useful to treat EBV-associated B-cell driven lymphoproliferative disease.
Scientists at the NIAID are developing neutralizing antibodies, originally isolated from humans or non-human primates, that could be useful in preventing primary infection or reactivation of EBV in immunocompromised individuals. These antibodies are 10-100 times more potent than the most potent EBV neutralizing antibody identified to date (72A1). The antibodies target epitopes on either the gp350 surface glycoprotein of EBV or the gH/gL heterodimer. In vitro experiments have demonstrated that the antibodies effectively inhibit EBV infection of B cells and epithelial cells as well as cell-to-cell fusion of cells expressing the viral proteins gH/gL.
- Treatment of individuals with compromised immune systems to prevent EBV-associated lymphoproliferative diseases
- Prevention of primary EBV infection in individuals with compromised immune systems to prevent EBV-associated lymphoproliferative diseases
- No EBV therapeutics or prophylactics currently exist