RARE Daily

Researchers Isolate Antibodies that may Prevent Rare, Polio-Like Illness in Kids

July 6, 2020

Rare Daily Staff

Researchers have isolated human monoclonal antibodies that may prevent a rare and devastating polio-like illness in children linked to a respiratory viral infection, according to a study in Science Immunology.

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) causes sudden weakness in the arms and legs following a fever or respiratory illness. More than 600 cases have been identified since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking the disease in 2014.

There is no specific treatment for AFM, which tends to strike in the late summer or early fall and has been associated with some deaths. However, the disease has recently been linked enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a group of respiratory viruses.

Researchers at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center isolated antibody-producing blood cells from the blood of children who had previously been infected by EV-D68. By fusing the blood cells to fast-growing myeloma cells, the researchers were able to generate a panel of monoclonal antibodies that potently neutralized the virus in laboratory studies.

Colleagues at Purdue University determined the structure of the antibodies, which shed light on how they specifically recognize and bind to EV-D68. One of the antibodies protected mice from respiratory and neurologic disease when given either before or after infection by the enterovirus.

The findings suggest that these antibodies potentially could prevent EV-D68 infection and AFM in humans.

“We were excited to isolate potent human antibodies that inhibit this devastating polio-like virus, and these studies will form the basis for taking them forward to clinical trials,” said James Crowe, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center.

Photo: James Crowe, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center


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