Infectious Diseases

May 24, 2021

Therapeutic antibodies for hantavirus

Vanderbilt Vaccine Center researchers have isolated monoclonal antibodies against hantaviruses, an emerging source of human disease with pandemic potential.

Hantaviruses are an emerging source of human disease. Like pandemic-producing coronaviruses, they are spreading due to rapid population growth, environmental destruction and climate change.  

Infections caused by New World hantaviruses including the Andes virus and Sin Nombre virus can cause the lungs to fill with fluid, resulting in a fatality rate approaching 40%. Although usually transmitted from rats and other rodents to humans, recent outbreaks of Andes virus infection have included human-to-human transmission. 

James Crowe Jr., MD, and colleagues isolated broad and potently neutralizing monoclonal antibodies from the blood of people who had survived New World hantavirus infections. The antibodies targeted sites on the hantavirus “spike” protein that is thought to enable the virus to fuse with and enter the cells it infects. 

Four of the antibodies, when injected into muscle, showed therapeutic efficacy at clinically relevant doses in animal studies. These findings, published in Cell Reports, support the potential for these therapeutic molecules to treat hantavirus infections.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant GM008320) and the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program, Program Area T.