According to a story from Acrofan, the biotechnology company Moderna, Inc. recently released the results of a preclinical study which described the use of mRNA which encodes a monoclonal antibody designed to target the chikungunya virus. In the proof of concept study, the antibody was delivered using a proprietary lipid nanoparticle method. The results of the study suggest that this approach could protect against infection by the virus.
Chikungunya is an infectious disease that is caused by the chikungunya virus. It inflicts up to 3 million infections every year. Although most patients recover quickly, newborns, the chronically ill, and older adults are at increased risk of serious complications or, more rarely, death. The virus is usually transmitted to humans through a bite from mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. The disease is most characterized by a high fever and joint pain. Other symptoms include rash, pink eye, digestive problems, fatigue, and headaches. The virus has been linked to rare neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome. Joint stiffness and pain may be severe and debilitating and can last for much longer after other symptoms have receded, some times for years. Treatment for chikungunya is supportive and includes NSAIDs and other drugs to provide pain relief. To learn more about chikungunya, click here.
A Possible Vaccine?
The findings from this preclinical display critical characteristics for this treatment, including its capability to prevent the disease and that fact that it was well-tolerated. The antibody was able to provide protection from symptoms and infection in a mouse model of chikungunya. The approach will ultimately allow the body of the patient to produce its own antibodies in a similar manner to a vaccine, but instead of introducing a dead or weak viral strain to prompt this, a sample of the antibody itself is introduced via mRNA.
The experimental therapy is known as mRNA-1944. Moderna is committed to the development of mRNA based therapies and vaccines that can provide a new level of protection against a variety of diseases. The company is also developing another experimental therapy, called RNA-3704, as a treatment for the rare disease methylmalonic acidemia. MRNA-1944 was developed using antibodies from the B-cell of patients that displayed immunity to the chikungunya infection.