Jarrod Mousa, PhD

Jarrod Mousa, PhD

Institution: University of Georgia

Project: Using Monoclonal Antibodies to Protect Against Pneumococcal Pneumonia

Grant(s): Innovation Award

Although there are two vaccines currently in use for prevention of pneumococcal infection, Streptococcus pneumoniae remains a leading cause of infectious disease related deaths, causing nearly one million deaths worldwide each year. Pneumococcal infection persists due to infection with strains not included in current vaccines as well as antibiotic resistance among these strains. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are a promising tool for treatment of bacterial infections and avoid the complications of drug resistance. As an alternative approach for pneumococcal treatment, we are developing human monoclonal antibodies for treatment of bacterial infection. We have identified several monoclonal antibody candidates that protect against pneumococcal infection in preclinical animal models. We have also determined the mechanism by which these monoclonal antibodies protect against severe pneumococcal disease, which is based on preventing the spread of bacteria from lungs to the blood through interactions with immune cells. We also determined if the monoclonal antibodies can prevent pneumococcal disease following influenza virus infection, as this is a frequent scenario in patients with influenza disease, whereby individuals recover from influenza only to have secondary bacterial pneumonia. In a preclinical animal model, we determined that the monoclonal antibodies can protect against secondary pneumococcal infection. Overall, our research has identified new candidates to treat a leading cause of bacterial pneumonia. Our future research will identify if these monoclonal antibodies can protect against drug resistant bacteria, and we will also develop additional candidates for preclinical testing.

Update: The goal of our innovation award is to develop and test human monoclonal antibody therapies for pneumococcal infection, a leading cause of bacterial pneumonia worldwide. We have identified lead candidates form this research that can treat pneumococcal infection in preclinical models, and these monoclonal antibodies can also protect against secondary pneumococcal infection, which often follows infection with influenza virus. Furthermore, we have determined the mechanism of protection for these monoclonal antibodies, and we are currently using this information to optimize their efficacy, and we are identifying new candidates for use in a monoclonal antibody cocktail.

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