A panel of investigational monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting different sites of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) have been shown to block infection when tested in human cells in a laboratory setting.
One of the experimental mAbs provided nearly complete protection against EBV infection and lymphoma when tested in mice.
Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in collaboration with researchers from Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, led the study.
EBV is one of the most common human viruses. It is the primary cause of infectious mononucleosis and is associated with some cancers and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. There is no licensed vaccine to protect against the virus.
The researchers developed several investigational mAbs targeting two key proteins – gH and gL – found on EBV’s surface. The two proteins are known to facilitate EBV fusion with human cells and cause infection.
When tested in the laboratory, the investigational mAbs prevented EBV infection of human B cells and epithelial cells, which line the throat at the initial site of EBV infection.
Analysing the structure of the mAbs and their two surface proteins using X-ray crystallography and advanced microscopy, the researchers identified multiple sites of vulnerability on the virus to target.
When tested in mice, one of the experimental mAbs, called mAb 769B10, provided almost complete protection against EBV infection when given. The mAb also protected all mice tested from EBV lymphoma.