An international research group led by Arizona State University professor Qiang "Shawn" Chen has developed a new generation of potentially safer and more cost-effective therapeutics against West Nile virus and other pathogens.
The therapeutics, known as monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), and their derivatives were shown to neutralize and protect mice against a lethal dose challenge of West Nile virus - even as late as four days after the initial infection.
"The overarching goal of our research is to create an innovative, yet sustainable and accessible low-cost solution to combat the global threat of West Nile virus," said Chen, a researcher at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute.
West Nile virus is spread by infected mosquitoes, and targets the central nervous system. It can be a serious, life-altering and even fatal disease, and currently, there is no cure or drug treatment against West Nile virus, which has been widely spread across the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.
"The goal of this latest research was twofold," said Chen. "First, we wanted to show proof-of-concept, demonstrating that tobacco plants can be used to manufacture large and complex MAb-based therapeutics. Second, we've wanted to improve the delivery of the therapeutic into the brain to combat West Nile virus at the place where it does the greatest harm."