29. March 2017 | Press releases:

Antiviral antibodies against Marburg virus World´s first protective antibodies against Marburg virus developed

A team of scientists around Professor Michael Hust from the Institute of Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics of the Technische Universität Braunschweig developed successfully a panel of antibodies against highly-pathogenic Marburg virus. These are the worldwide first recombinant antibodies which are protective in an animal model against the infection with wildtype Marburg virus. Together with colleagues in France and in the US, the scientists of the TU Braunschweig used the antibody phage display technology to generate these antibodies. Their research results will soon be published in the mAbs journal. The results were recently published in mAbs.

“We are happy, that we could contribute to the worldwide first recombinant protective antibodies against Marburg virus using our antibody phage display technology. We hope, that these antibodies will be developed as therapeutic in the future“, says project leader Prof. Dr. Michael Hust from the Institute of Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics of the TU Braunschweig. Dr. Sebastian Miethe adds: “The development of these antibodies was only possible in close cooperation with our partners in France and USA. These long lasting cooperation was also successful in other projects focused on pathogens and toxins.“

About the antibodies by phage display

Antibodies are essential key molecules of the immune system to fight diseases. In medicine and biological research, these immunoglobulines are used as probes to biochemically analyze cells or tissues. Another important field is the use of antibodies for diagnostics. Antibodies are used for the treatment of many diseases like cancer or autoimmune diseases. Today, they are the top-selling class of therapeutics. Antibodies are mainly generated by immunization of test animals. Using gene technology like the antibody phage display, these antibodies can be generated in vitro, also allowing the direct generation of human antibodies which are better compatible for patients.

About Marburg virus

For humans, Marburg virus is a  highly-pathogenic virus and together with different species of Ebola virus it  belongs  to the family of Filoviruses (filamentous viruses). In most cases an infection with Marburg virus results in a  fatal hemorrhagic fever whereas no specific antiviral drugs are available. This virus was isolated  1967 from employees of a research laboratory in Marburg after working with samples from infected green monkeys. Shortly later, more cases occurred in Frankfurt (Germany) and Belgrade (Serbia). In contrast to other viruses, which normally only infects on cell type, Marburg virus infects and destroys different cell types. Patients getting fever and internal bleeding (hemorrhage) resulting finally in multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.

In the past, sporadic outbreaks occurred in east Africa, as last in Uganda in September 2014. Whereas, the amount of documented cases is far below compared to the Ebola outbreaks in west and central Africa. It’s important to develop antiviral drugs to treat the people in the effected regions, but also having these drug worldwide available, because people are worldwide connected. The antibodies developed in this project are promising candidates for future therapeutic development of this dangerous disease.

About Biotechnology at the TU Braunschweig

The Department of Biotechnology of the Institute of Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics is doing research on the generation and engineering of human antibodies for infection research, diagnostics and drug development. Here, gene technology is used to replace animal experiments in antibody generation.