WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department is weighing a new search for immune-protein “cocktails” it hopes will protect humans against Ebola and other deadly, weapon-usable viruses.
The Pentagon two weeks ago invited scientists to submit research proposals for designing “monoclonal antibodies” that could protect against Ebola and Marburg, as well as “alphaviruses” such as Venezuelan equine encephalitis.
Pentagon planners have been turning to antibodies as a possible tool because “no easy and quick fix” for such agents has emerged from efforts to develop vaccines or traditional antiviral treatments, said Gigi Gronvall, a senior associate with the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
The early-stage research now under consideration ideally would lead to single-shot treatments capable of guarding troops for months from multiple virus types, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency said in a Sept. 18 solicitation. DTRA officials welcomed researchers to propose “‘cocktails’ that may enable cross-protection against multiple species of virus.”
The emphasis on “cocktails” makes the latest DTRA proposal particularly notable, because several studies suggest that mixes of several antibodies can be particularly effective in fighting pathogens, Gronvall told Global Security Newswire in a telephone interview. Antibodies hit their targets with such specificity that a treatment with multiple immune proteins can help account for slight variations between invading microbes.
Monoclonal antibodies have been in use since the 1980s to treat cancer and immune-linked ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, but their use against infectious pathogens has lagged, according to a DTRA-sponsored report co-authored by Gronvall on the technology’s biodefense potential.
The United States last year licensed the first inhalation anthrax treatment to use the technology, which involves creating massive quantities of a single immune “antibody.” The human body naturally generates such proteins, each of which is designed to mark a specific pathogen or toxin for elimination by other immune-system components.
One antibody cocktail grown in modified tobacco plants showed promising potency against Ebola infections specifically, according to a study published in August.
“There have been a lot of changes in the way that monoclonal antibody technologies have evolved over the last several years, and it makes monoclonal antibodies a very nice piece of their approach to medical countermeasures,” Gronvall said.
The latest DTRA Broad Agency Announcement seeks proposals for studies no longer than one year, with a cost no greater than $500 million. The filing deadline is Oct. 16.
What We're Following See More »
"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."
After a lighthearted beginning, Donald Trump's appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York "took a tough turn as the crowd repeatedly booed the GOP nominee for his sharp-edged jokes about his rival Hillary Clinton."
Evan McMullin came out on top in a Emerson College poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clinton took third with 24%. Gary Johnson received 5% of the vote in the survey.
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” vanished from the university’s early October poll. A new PPRI/Brookings survey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a virtual dead heat, with Trump taking 41% of the vote to Clinton’s 40% in a four-way matchup.