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News Article

Immunotherapy technique shows promise for treating Bovine leukemia virus infection


A newly developed antibody drug reactivates suppressed immune cells, decreasing the Bovine leukemia virus counts in an infected cow.

Bovine leukemia is a systemic, malignant lymphosarcoma in cows which is mainly caused by infection with a retrovirus, Bovine leukemia virus (BLV). BLV has spread worldwide and there is no effective vaccine or treatment.

In Japan, where BLV causes considerable economic losses to dairy and beef farmers, researchers are hoping to control the spread and progression of the disease.

In a previous study, scientists from Hokkaido University, Tohoku University and the Hokkaido Research Organization found that T-cells are functionally suppressed by a receptor/ligand interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 while infected with BLV. The immune suppression was closely related to progression of the disease. Furthermore, they developed an anti-PD-L1 antibody which was found effective in blocking PD-1/PD-L1 interaction and reinvigorating T-cell response in the infected cows.

In a study published in Frontiers in Immunology, the research team developed an anti-PD-1 antibody derived from rats. They then tested its effectiveness on a cow in preventing progression of the disease. However, no significant improvement in T-cell activity or the virus count was found, apparently due to the antibody instability in the cow's body when administrated.

The team then engineered the anti-PD-1 rat antibody to form an anti PD-1 "rat-bovine" chimeric antibody, which was again administered to the infected cow. They discovered the newly developed antibody blocks the binding between PD-1 and PD-L1, reinvigorating the antivirus immune response and thus decreasing the virus count in the infected cow. Furthermore, the antibody is not easily expelled from the cow's body, enabling it to remain effective within the cow for a longer period.

"The new antibody could pave the way for developing biomedicines that effectively treat cows infected with the Bovine leukemia virus. Such biomedicines are also expected to reduce the use of antibiotics or steroids in other intractable infectious diseases," says Associate Professor Satoru Konnai of the research team at Hokkaido University. "We plan to conduct animal experiments this year to verify if our antibodies are effective in treating other diseases."

Read article: Anti-Bovine Programmed Death-1 Rat–Bovine Chimeric Antibody for Immunotherapy of Bovine Leukemia Virus Infection in Cattle by Tomohiro Okagawa, Satoru Konnai, Asami Nishimori, Naoya Maekawa, Ryoyo Ikebuchi, Shinya Goto, Chie Nakajima, Junko Kohara, Satoshi Ogasawara, Yukinari Kato, Yasuhiko Suzuki, Shiro Murata and Kazuhiko Ohashi, published in Frontiers in Immunology, 7 June 2017, doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00650

Article details

  • Date
  • 13 June 2017
  • Source
  • Hokkaido University
  • Subject(s)
  • Food Animals