Pharmaceutical company: Vaccine may be tested against resistance to monoclonal antibodies

By Linda Schiavo , CNN

Recent laboratory research from GlaxoSmithKline has shown that a vaccine can protect mice against growing resistance to the newly discovered Omicron cell line, a cell line built by researchers from National Institutes of Health.

About 15 years ago, scientists discovered a group of human cells that was resistant to certain vaccines. This newly discovered cell line, called Omicron, is known to produce monoclonal antibodies, which are antibodies that bind to specific proteins on the surface of a cell. These monoclonal antibodies are then released and attach to immune cells, which are then rapidly released. This type of immune system activity has the potential to cause severe or fatal reactions in susceptible humans.

“The immune system is the last line of defense against infectious disease, but the vaccines we make have to be effective and safe because we need our bodies to make them in the first place,” said Kaelan Pawsey, research scientist at GSK. “A natural process can allow cells to become resistant to vaccines or reinfect us with different viruses. What we are trying to do is stop that from happening so you can get a good vaccination regardless of the vulnerability of the individual you vaccinate.”

The research published Friday in the journal Cell Reports, gives hope to researchers that they may be able to create vaccines that produce antibodies that are specific for particular human viruses. And in a significant break in thinking about antibodies, the study also showed that antibodies produced by monoclonal antibody manufacturers didn’t work against the monoclonal antibody-resistant cell line.

Although vaccines work by providing a vaccine against a pathogen, there have been far fewer cases of the human monoclonal antibody, or antibody-resistant cells, than the human immune response to the pathogen. The monoclonal antibody-resistant cell line has evolved into one of the most resistant and frequent caused diseases in the past 15 years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been approximately 1,820 cases of monoclonal antibodies-resistant viruses in humans since 1993. In the same period, there have been 8,192 cases of seasonal influenza and 265 human cases of the Spanish flu, which are two of the most powerful pandemics to hit humanity.

Since several of the monoclonal antibody-resistant viruses were reported in 2002, scientists have expressed hope that the research would lead to the development of a vaccine that could halt the infections.

However, the results are not yet available for humans.

“This was a small study using only mice and there are still many years of real world work to be done before a vaccine will be produced and rolled out,” said B.R. Kishelia, a molecular biologist at the Center for Vaccine Development at the NIH who was not involved in the research. “It’s a great achievement, however, for scientists to have consistently established new vaccine-resistant pathways.”

Kishelia added that this progress is exciting because the newly produced antibodies won’t always be monoclonal antibodies, but will be new antibodies produced by the immune system itself.

“This will lead to a better understanding of the relationship between evolution, memory, and both wild type and monoclonal antibodies against viruses that work very well, but cause problems for people who cannot make monoclonal antibodies,” said Kishelia.

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