Dr. Mark Klempner of the University of Masachusetts’ nonprofit vaccine development arm, MassBiologics, states that they are working on a monoclonal antibody that specifically targets Lyme-causing bacteria that purports the highest level of immunity.
Using genetically engineered mice with human immune system genes, they immunized the mice using Borrelia bacteria and then collected the antibodies the mice produced. They identified four to be potent against multiple strains of Borrelia, the Lyme disease causing bacteria.
When testing the antibodies produced, a single injection protected them from a large dose of Borrelia even after several infected ticks bit the mice.
And while U.S. Biologic is working on a vaccine for mice, produced in pellets resembling kibble, Klemner states emphatically that their monoclonal antibody is not a vaccine, instead it stimulates the immune system to ward off infection.
Monoclonal antibody drugs have been used for various diseases including cancer. It is similar in approach to gamma globulin shots that were used to try and prevent tuberculosis and hepatitis.
The company is hopeful to start testing in humans next year.