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ISTAb- A novel therapy to target staphylococcal toxins at the site of infections

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R43AI136143-01A1
Agency Tracking Number: R43AI136143
Amount: $600,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: NIAID
Solicitation Number: PA18-574
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-04-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-03-31
Small Business Information
Gaithersburg, MD 20878-1757
United States
DUNS: 601000750
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 (240) 778-6520
Business Contact
Phone: (301) 251-9336
Research Institution

Project Summary
Many bacterial pathogens secrete exotoxins to modify the host-pathogen interactions in a manner that benefits
the bacteria. There are several examples of successful prophylaxis and treatment by targeting bacterial toxins
as evident by decades-long history of vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Staphylococcus aureus
(SA) is a major human pathogen responsible for several hundred thousand of hospitalizations and over 12,000
death in the US every year. SA produces a plethora of toxins including pore-forming toxins (PFTs) that play a
key role in pathogenesis and immune evasion. While neutralization of these toxins by monoclonal antibodies
(mAbs) is expected to reduce clinical disease, it is unlikely to uproot invasive disease, as suggested by recent
failure of a PFT mAb cocktail to prevent SA ventilator associated pneumonia (Arsanis clinical trial). We have
devised a novel approach to target neutralizing anti-toxin mAbs specifically to the site of infection enabling instant
toxin neutralization and mediating opsonophagocytic killing (OPK) at the same time. The approach exploits the
cell wall targeting domains (CWT) of a phage-derived bacteriolysin which binds with species-specificity and high
affinity to cell wall components of specific bacteria. The CWT is fused to specific anti-toxin mAbs to generate
Infection Site Targeted Antitoxin antibodies (ISTAbs). We have successfully applied this to B. anthracis and C.
difficile under NIAID support. In this proposal we aim to develop ISTAbs for S. aureus using the isolated CWT of
lysostaphin along with potent PFT neutralizing mAbs. ISTAbs are expected to accumulate where they are
needed most, i.e. at the site of infection; they capture and sequester the toxins, thus immediately neutralizing
the immune suppressive effects of the toxins and preventing their release into circulation. Bacterium-ISTAb-toxin
complex is then cleared by phagocytes. Concurrent toxin neutralization and bacterial clearance is a unique
advantage of the ISTAb technology over mere antitoxin treatment.
In this proposal, we will use a set of broadly neutralizing S. aureus PFT mAbs to generate ISTAbs with
lysostaphin CWT. However, because IgG binding to protein A on the surface of S. aureus interferes with
opsonophagocytic killing and may even cause immunopathology, we will create and test mutant ISTAbs that do
not bind protein A. In Aim 1, these ISTAbs will be generated and characterized for biophysical and functional
properties, including neutralization and OPK activity, to select a short list for in vivo efficacy studies. In Aim 2,
we will evaluate the efficacy of ISTAbs in different mouse models of S. aureus infection including pneumonia,
sepsis and surgical wound infection. Upon completion of the Phase I SBIR we anticipate a Phase II project to
expand the efficacy studies to invasive infection models in rabbits including sepsis, prosthetic joint infection,
ventilator associated pneumonia, and endocarditis models as well as IND-enabling studies.Staphylococcus aureus causes a wide range of infections ranging from skin and soft tissue infections to life
threatening diseases like sepsis and pneumonia. S. aureus secretes a wide range of toxins including
superantigens and six major pore forming toxins. Alpha hemolysin (hla) and five leukotoxins (LukAB, LukED,
HlgAB, HlgCB and PVL) are among the most potent toxins. S. aureus is becoming increasingly resistant to
most available antibiotics and developing into a superbug. In this proposal, we seek to develop a novel
Infection site targeted antitoxin antibodies (ISTAbs) against these five-major group of SA toxins (hla, LukED,
HlgAB, HlgCB and PVL) that would target the antibody (drug) to the site of infection. This technology can
provide a novel approach for treatment of S. aureus infections.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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