Antibody for the theranostic of abacavir therapy

Researchers are discovering new alternatives to genetic testing of hypersensitivities to abacavir medications. Such methods can help screen patients and avoid reactions to these medications.

The technology

A University of Melbourne team led by Professor James McCluskey, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences), are researching a potential alternative to current genetic testing.

They’ve discovered a unique monoclonal antibody that acts against the antigens HLA-B*57 and HLA-B*58. This technology can be used to screen patients who need to be treated by abacavir, a common nucleoside analogue with potent antiviral activity against HIV.

Abacavir therapy makes patients hypersensitive, which can be severe and, in rare cases, fatal. Symptoms include fever, skin rash, fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain) and respiratory symptoms (pharyngitis, dyspnea, cough). Because hypersensitivity to abacavir is strongly associated with the expression of the antigen HLA-B*5701, the Food and Drug Administration (the US federal agency regulating the release of new foods and health-related products) recommends patients are screened for HLA-B*57 before starting treatment with abacavir or medications containing abacavir.

The outcome

University of Melbourne Commercial negotiated on behalf of the University an exclusive license arrangement with a global medical technology company in relation to the sale of kits incorporating the monoclonal antibody developed by Professor McCluskey and his team.

In addition to an upfront payment, the University will be entitled to receiving development milestone payments and a share of revenues generated from the sales of products.