Tests can reveal whether an antibody can turn into a killer

January 17, 2024

“The fact that the antibody amplifies the toxin when venom and antidote are administered in different ways is an incredibly interesting discovery from a research point of view,” says Postdoc Christoffer Vinther Sørensen from DTU, who was the one testing the antibody when the observation was made. "This is a significant discovery we have arrived at," says Professor Bruno Lomonte from the University of Costa Rica. Alongside his colleague, Professor Julián Fernández, he has collaborated with Christoffer Vinther Sørensen and his project supervisor at DTU, Professor Andreas Hougaard Laustsen-Kiel, for the past 4 years. For example, scientists do not know how an antibody designed to combat venom can switch sides and instead intensify the toxins’ attacks on the body. “We haven’t figured out how this happens, but it helps to identify another important aspect that should be tested when working with antibodies,” says Christoffer Vinther Sørensen.

“The fact that the antibody amplifies the toxin when venom and antidote are administered in different ways is an incredibly interesting discovery from a research point of view,” says Postdoc Christoffer Vinther Sørensen from DTU, who was the one testing the antibody when the observation was made.

"This is a significant discovery we have arrived at," says Professor Bruno Lomonte from the University of Costa Rica. Alongside his colleague, Professor Julián Fernández, he has collaborated with Christoffer Vinther Sørensen and his project supervisor at DTU, Professor Andreas Hougaard Laustsen-Kiel, for the past 4 years. They hope that the discovery will contribute to expediting the development of the next generation of antivenom, ensuring that many people in need can benefit from it sooner.

The discovery has just been published in the renowned scientific journal Nature Communications.

First time ADET is observed in connection with animal venoms.

The phenomenon, which the researchers have observed, is known as antibody-dependent enhancement of toxicity (ADET) and has not previously been observed in connection with toxins from the animal world and it remains a mystery in most areas. For example, scientists do not know how an antibody designed to combat venom can switch sides and instead intensify the toxins’ attacks on the body.

“We haven’t figured out how this happens, but it helps to identify another important aspect that should be tested when working with antibodies,” says Christoffer Vinther Sørensen.

His research project is part of international research work aimed at finding a broad-spectrum antivenom based on human antibodies that can be used as treatment against the world’s most dangerous snake venoms.

“Antibodies can fail in many ways. By mapping these ways, we and other antidote researchers in the future can ensure that promising antibodies are tested as soon as possible in the most essential experiments. We hope that this allows us to discard antibodies that are not optimal and quickly arrive at a final antivenom that can neutralize the world’s most dangerous snake venoms,” says Christoffer Vinther Sørensen and adds:

“While we don’t know why a ‘soldier’ switches sides, we now know that it’s something to keep an eye on, even with our close friends, the antibodies.”

The source of this news is from Technical University of Denmark

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