Generation of the First Pig Influenza Antibodies

The Pirbright Institute recently developed the first-ever pig antibodies against influenza. The study published in PLOS Pathogens proves successful protection against flu infections, validating that the new antibodies can be used for model studies of human antibody therapeutics and vaccines.

The Pirbright team collaborated with the University of Oxford, The Francis Crick Institute and The Pirbright Livestock Antibody Hub to initially generate antibodies from influenza-infected pigs. After, our sister company Absolute Antibody recombinantly expressed 20 of the different monoclonal antibody clones to be evaluated in serological assays. To further in vivo research, Absolute Antibody then manufactured a top antibody candidate, pb27, in bulk quantities using their proprietary transient expression system, which enables the engineering and recombinant manufacture of antibodies in a variety of formats.

Pig Models Ideal for Studying Influenza

Pigs are large animal natural hosts for the same influenza virus subtypes that infect humans. Their similar immunological, physiological, and anatomical composition to humans makes them a powerful model to study immunity to human influenza and serves as a basis to test vaccines and alternative therapeutics. Pigs have also been found to be a source of pandemic viruses, including the 2009 H1N1 global swine flu outbreak that affected and killed thousands of individuals.

Thus, using a pig model with these new antibodies will increase our understanding of the spread, prevention and treatment of influenza. The new pig antibodies recognize the same main haemagglutinin epitopes as their human antibody counterparts and show their comparable neutralizing activity. Pigs treated with one of the monoclonal antibodies prior to infection were protected from severe disease and the flu virus was eliminated from their lungs.

Dr. Elma Tchilian, Mucosal Immunology Group Leader at Pirbright, said in a press release: “These data demonstrate that pigs and humans, which are both natural hosts for influenza viruses, generate very similar immune responses. This makes the pig an excellent translational model for testing novel vaccines and monoclonal antibody delivery methods.”

The new paper builds upon previous research by the Pirbright team, which has demonstrated the value of studying influenza in pigs and shown that human antibodies could potentially neutralize H1N1 influenza in a pig model. For more on these past studies, check out our previous blog post.

Related Research and Resources

If you work in this area of research, you may also be interested in Kerafast’s full collection of influenza antibodies, developed in academic laboratories and made available to researchers worldwide via our reagents catalog. The antibodies are specific for either influenza A or influenza B proteins, including hemagglutinin (HA), matrix protein (M1 and M2), non-structural protein 1 (NS1), neuraminidase and nucleoprotein (NP).

Other available reagents for studying pigs include the porcine rotavirus VP6 antibody from Iowa State University, porcine NCR2 antibody from the USDA, and a Mycolasma hyorhinis antibody from University of Missouri – Columbia.

In addition, the transient expression system used to produce the new pig antibodies is available through our sister company Absolute Antibody to provide both custom antibody engineering services as well as a rapidly growing catalog of engineered recombinant antibodies. The recombinant antibodies can be produced in any species, isotype or format; check out the Periodic Table of Antibodies to view the wide range of possibilities. To learn more, read Absolute Antibody’s case study on the large-scale production of the first pig influenza antibodies.