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Utrecht, Netherlands

Lutje Hulsik D.,Joseph Fourier University | Liu Y.-Y.,University Utrecht | Liu Y.-Y.,Tianjin Medical University | Strokappe N.M.,University Utrecht | And 24 more authors.
PLoS Pathogens | Year: 2013

The membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the HIV-1 glycoprotein gp41 is targeted by the broadly neutralizing antibodies 2F5 and 4E10. To date, no immunization regimen in animals or humans has produced HIV-1 neutralizing MPER-specific antibodies. We immunized llamas with gp41-MPER proteoliposomes and selected a MPER-specific single chain antibody (VHH), 2H10, whose epitope overlaps with that of mAb 2F5. Bi-2H10, a bivalent form of 2H10, which displayed an approximately 20-fold increased affinity compared to the monovalent 2H10, neutralized various sensitive and resistant HIV-1 strains, as well as SHIV strains in TZM-bl cells. X-ray and NMR analyses combined with mutagenesis and modeling revealed that 2H10 recognizes its gp41 epitope in a helical conformation. Notably, tryptophan 100 at the tip of the long CDR3 is not required for gp41 interaction but essential for neutralization. Thus bi-2H10 is an anti-MPER antibody generated by immunization that requires hydrophobic CDR3 determinants in addition to epitope recognition for neutralization similar to the mode of neutralization employed by mAbs 2F5 and 4E10. © 2013 Lutje Hulsik et al. Source

Kijanka M.,University Utrecht | Warnders F.-J.,University of Groningen | El Khattabi M.,QVQ BV | Lub-De Hooge M.,University of Groningen | And 5 more authors.
European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging | Year: 2013

Purpose: Molecular optical imaging using monoclonal antibodies is slow with low tumour to background ratio. We used anti-HER2 VHHs conjugated to IRDye 800CW to investigate their potential as probes for rapid optical molecular imaging of HER2-positive tumours by the determination of tumour accumulation and tumour to background levels. Methods: Three anti-HER2 VHHs (11A4, 18C3, 22G12) were selected with phage display and produced in Escherichia coli. Binding affinities of these probes to SKBR3 cells were determined before and after site-specific conjugation to IRDye 800CW. To determine the potential of VHH-IR as imaging probes, serial optical imaging studies were carried out using human SKBR3 and human MDA-MB-231 xenograft breast cancer models. Performance of the anti-HER2 VHH-IR was compared to that of trastuzumab-IR and a non-HER2-specific VHH-IR. Image-guided surgery was performed during which SKBR3 tumour was removed under the guidance of the VHH-IR signal. Results: Site-specific conjugation of IRDye 800CW to three anti-HER2 VHHs preserved high affinity binding with the following dissociation constants (KD): 11A4 1.9 ± 0.03, 18C3 14.3 ± 1.8 and 22G12 3.2 ± 0.5 nM. Based upon different criteria such as binding, production yield and tumour accumulation, 11A4 was selected for further studies. Comparison of 11A4-IR with trastuzumab-IR showed ∼20 times faster tumour accumulation of the anti-HER2 VHH, with a much higher contrast between tumour and background tissue (11A4-IR 2.5 ± 0.3, trastuzumab-IR 1.4 ± 0.4, 4 h post-injection). 11A4-IR was demonstrated to be a useful tool in image-guided surgery. Conclusion: VHH-IR led to a much faster tumour accumulation with high tumour to background ratios as compared to trastuzumab-IR allowing same-day imaging for clinical investigation as well as image-guided surgery. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

McCoy L.E.,University College London | Rutten L.,QVQ BV | Frampton D.,University College London | Anderson I.,University College London | And 11 more authors.
PLoS Pathogens | Year: 2014

To date, no immunization of humans or animals has elicited broadly neutralizing sera able to prevent HIV-1 transmission; however, elicitation of broad and potent heavy chain only antibodies (HCAb) has previously been reported in llamas. In this study, the anti-HIV immune responses in immunized llamas were studied via deep sequencing analysis using broadly neutralizing monoclonal HCAbs as a guides. Distinct neutralizing antibody lineages were identified in each animal, including two defined by novel antibodies (as variable regions called VHH) identified by robotic screening of over 6000 clones. The combined application of five VHH against viruses from clades A, B, C and CRF_AG resulted in neutralization as potent as any of the VHH individually and a predicted 100% coverage with a median IC50 of 0.17 µg/ml for the panel of 60 viruses tested. Molecular analysis of the VHH repertoires of two sets of immunized animals showed that each neutralizing lineage was only observed following immunization, demonstrating that they were elicited de novo. Our results show that immunization can induce potent and broadly neutralizing antibodies in llamas with features similar to human antibodies and provide a framework to analyze the effectiveness of immunization protocols. © 2014 McCoy et al. Source

McCoy L.E.,University College London | McCoy L.E.,Scripps Research Institute | Groppelli E.,University College London | Blanchetot C.,arGEN-X | And 5 more authors.
Retrovirology | Year: 2014

Background: Direct cell-cell spread of HIV-1 is a very efficient mode of viral dissemination, with increasing evidence suggesting that it may pose a considerable challenge to controlling viral replication in vivo. Much current vaccine research involves the study of broadly neutralising antibodies (bNabs) that arise during natural infection with the aims of eliciting such antibodies by vaccination or incorporating them into novel therapeutics. However, whether cell-cell spread of HIV-1 can be effectively targeted by bNabs remains unclear, and there is much interest in identifying antibodies capable of efficiently neutralising virus transmitted by cell-cell contact. Results: In this study we have tested a panel of bNAbs for inhibition of cell-cell spread, including some not previously evaluated for inhibition of this mode of HIV-1 transmission. We found that three CD4 binding site antibodies, one from an immunised llama (J3) and two isolated from HIV-1-positive patients (VRC01 and HJ16) neutralised cell-cell spread between T cells, while antibodies specific for glycan moieties (2G12, PG9, PG16) and the MPER (2F5) displayed variable efficacy. Notably, while J3 displayed a high level of potency during cell-cell spread we found that the small size of the llama heavy chain-only variable region (VHH) J3 is not required for efficient neutralisation since recombinant J3 containing a full-length human heavy chain Fc domain was significantly more potent. J3 and J3-Fc also neutralised cell-cell spread of HIV-1 from primary macrophages to CD4+ T cells. Conclusions: In conclusion, while bNabs display variable efficacy at preventing cell-cell spread of HIV-1, we find that some CD4 binding site antibodies can inhibit this mode of HIV-1 dissemination and identify the recently described llama antibody J3 as a particularly potent inhibitor. Effective neutralisation of cell-cell spread between physiologically relevant cell types by J3 and J3-Fc supports the development of VHH J3 nanobodies for therapeutic or prophylactic applications. © 2014 McCoy et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Calpe S.,Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine | Wagner K.,AIMM Therapeutics | El Khattabi M.,QVQ BV | Rutten L.,QVQ BV | And 6 more authors.
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics | Year: 2015

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) have important but distinct roles in tissue homeostasis and disease, including carcinogenesis and tumor progression. A large number of BMP inhibitors are available to study BMP function; however, as most of these antagonists are promiscuous, evaluating specific effects of individual BMPs is not feasible. Because the oncogenic role of the different BMPs varies for each neoplasm, highly selective BMP inhibitors are required. Here, we describe the generation of three types of llama-derived heavy chain variable domains (VHH) that selectively bind to either BMP4, to BMP2 and 4, or to BMP2, 4, 5, and 6. These generated VHHs have high affinity to their targets and are able to inhibit BMP signaling. Epitope binning and docking modeling have shed light into the basis for their BMP specificity. As opposed to the wide structural reach of natural inhibitors, these small molecules target the grooves and pockets of BMPs involved in receptor binding. In organoid experiments, specific inhibition of BMP4 does not affect the activation of normal stem cells. Furthermore, in vitro inhibition of cancer-derived BMP4 noncanonical signals results in an increase of chemosensitivity in a colorectal cancer cell line. Therefore, because of their high specificity and low off-target effects, these VHHs could represent a therapeutic alternative for BMP4+ malignancies. © 2015 American Association for Cancer Research. Source

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