Passive immunization through the development of fully human antibodies specific to Plasmodium falciparum may be effective at controlling the disease, report researchers led by Dr. Richard S. McIntosh from the University of Nottingham in a paper published in PLoS Pathogens. The researchers developed these novel reagents by antibody repertoire cloning generated from immune Gambian adults.
While it remains unclear if in vitro assays are predictive of functional immunity in humans, due to the lack of suitable animal models, according to this study antimalarial efficacy of human antibodies can be determined using rodent malaria parasites transgenic for P. falciparum antigens in mice and humans. An in vivo mouse model has significant advantage over the use of new world primates, the only other model for human malaria, which are labor-intensive and difficult to reproduce.
These novel human reagents cured mice of an otherwise lethal malaria infection, and protection was crucially dependent on human antibody receptors.
Malaria currently rivals HIV and tuberculosis as the world's most deadly infection, killing two to three million people a year or roughly one person every 30 seconds. The model described in this study provides both a test for therapeutic antibody efficacy prior to clinical trials in humans and an important tool in malaria vaccine development.
This study was supported by a Medical Research Council Career Establishment Award, a European Union Marie Curie Excellence Grant, Antibody Immunotherapy for Malaria, and a ROPA (Realizing Our Potential Award).
Article: McIntosh RS, Shi J, Jennings RM, Chappel JC, de Koning-Ward TF, et al. (2007) The importance of human FcγRI in mediating protection to malaria. PLoS Pathog 3(5): e72. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0030072
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