Filoviruses (family Filoviridae) include five ebolaviruses and Marburg virus. These pathogens cause a rapidly progressing and severe viral disease with high mortality rates (generally 30-90%). Outbreaks of filovirus disease are sporadic and, until recently, were limited to less than 500 cases. However, the 2013-2016 epidemic in western Africa, caused by Ebola virus (EBOV), illustrated the potential of filovirus outbreaks to escalate to a much larger scale (over 28,000 suspected cases). mAbs against the envelope glycoprotein represent a promising therapeutic platform for managing filovirus infections. However, mAbs that exhibit neutralization or protective properties against multiple filoviruses are rare. Here we examined a panel of engineered bi- and trispecific antibodies, in which variable domains of mAbs that target epitopes from multiple filoviruses were combined, for their capacity to neutralize viral infection across filovirus species. We found that bispecific combinations targeting EBOV and Sudan virus (another ebolavirus), provide potent cross-neutralization and protection in mice. Furthermore, trispecific combinations, targeting EBOV, Sudan virus, and Marburg virus, exhibited strong neutralization potential against all three viruses. These results provide important insights into multispecific antibody engineering against filoviruses and will inform future immunotherapeutic discoveries.
Keywords: Ebola virus; antibody; antibody engineering; antiviral agent; immunotherapy; infectious disease; multifunctional protein; protein engineering.