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November 2015

Naturally Occurring Monoclonal Antibodies and Their Therapeutic Potential for Neurologic Diseases

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 2Mayo Clinic Center for Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 3Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • 4Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • 5Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
JAMA Neurol. 2015;72(11):1346-1353. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.2188

Importance  Modulating the immune system does not reverse long-term disability in neurologic disorders. Better neuroregenerative and neuroprotective treatment strategies are needed for neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases.

Objective  To review the role of monoclonal, naturally occurring antibodies (NAbs) as novel therapeutic molecules for treatment of neurologic disorders.

Evidence Review  Peer-reviewed articles, including case reports, case series, retrospective reviews, prospective randomized clinical trials, and basic science reports, were identified in a PubMed search for articles about NAbs and neurologic disorders that were published from January 1, 1964, through June 30, 2015. We concentrated our review on multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Findings  Many insults, including trauma, ischemia, infection, inflammation, and neurodegeneration, result in irreversible damage to the central nervous system. Central nervous system injury often results in a pervasive inhibitory microenvironment that hinders regeneration. A common targeted drug development strategy is to identify molecules with high potency in animal models. Many approaches often fail in the clinical setting owing to a lack of efficacy in human diseases (eg, less than the response demonstrated in animal models) or a high incidence of toxic effects. An alternative approach is to identify NAbs in humans because these therapeutic molecules have potential physiologic function without toxic effects. NAbs of the IgG, IgA, or IgM isotype contain germline or close to germline sequences and are reactive to self-components, altered self-components, or foreign antigens. Our investigative group developed recombinant, autoreactive, natural human IgM antibodies directed against oligodendrocytes or neurons with therapeutic potential for central nervous system repair. One such molecule, recombinant HIgM22, directed against myelin and oligodendrocytes completed a successful phase 1 clinical trial without toxic effects with the goal of promoting remyelination in multiple sclerosis.

Conclusions and Relevance  Animal studies demonstrate that certain monoclonal NAbs are beneficial as therapeutic agents for neurologic diseases. This class of antibodies represents a unique source from which to develop a new class of disease-modifying therapies.