Monoclonal antibody preparations have demonstrated considerable clinical utility in the treatment of specific malignancies, as well as inflammatory and infectious diseases. Antibodies are conventionally delivered by passive administration, typically requiring costly large-scale laboratory development and production. Additional limitations include the necessity for repeat administrations, and the length of in vivo potency. Therefore, the development of methods to generate therapeutic antibodies and antibody like molecules in vivo, distinct from an active antigen-based immunization strategy, would have considerable clinical utility. In fact, adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector mediated delivery of immunoglobulin genes with subsequent generation of functional antibodies has recently been developed. As well, anon-viral vector mediated nucleic acid based delivery technology could permit the generation of therapeutic/prophylactic antibodies in vivo, obviating potential safety issues associated with viral vector based gene delivery. This delivery strategy has limitations as well, mainly due to very low in vivo production and expression of protein from the delivered gene. In the study reported here we have constructed an "enhanced and optimized" DNA plasmid technology to generate immunoglobulin heavy and light chains (i.e., Fab fragments) from an established neutralizing anti-HIV envelope glycoprotein monoclonal antibody (VRC01). This "enhanced" DNA (E-DNA) plasmid technology includes codon/RNA optimization, leader sequence utilization, as well as targeted potentiation of delivery and expression of the Fab immunoglobulin genes through use of "adaptive" in vivo electroporation. The results demonstrate that delivery by this method of a single administration of the optimized Fab expressing constructs resulted in generation of Fab molecules in mouse sera possessing high antigen specific binding and HIV neutralization activity for at least 7 d after injection, against diverse HIV isolates. Importantly, this delivery strategy resulted in a rapid increase (i.e., in as little as 48 h) in Fab levels when compared with protein-based immunization. The active generation of functional Fab molecules in vivo has important conceptual and practical advantages over conventional ex vivo generation, purification and passive delivery of biologically active antibodies. Further study of this technique for the rapid generation and delivery of immunoglobulin and immunoglobulin like molecules is highly relevant and timely.
Keywords: DNA vaccine; HIV-1 neutralization; electroporation; mAbVRC01; monoclonal antibodies.