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Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

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Paper Reveals New Way to Combat Bioterror Agents


A new paper published in PLoS One, an international, peer-reviewed, open access, online publication by the Public Library of Science, have revealed an additional mechanism to neutralize Botuliimum neurotoxins (BoNTs). BoNTs are a family of toxins that cause the disease botulism, but they can also be used as bioterror agents that cause paralysis when they poison the neurons that transmit the signals responsible for breathing and muscular movement.

Wynnewood, PA, August 22, 2008 --(PR.com)-- Dr. Scott Dessain, Associate Professor at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) and Sharad P. Adekar, MD, Scientist at LIMR, are authors on a paper published in PLoS One, an international, peer-reviewed, open access, online publication by the Public Library of Science. This manuscript entitled: Neutralization of botulinum neurotoxin by a human monoclonal antibody specific for the catalytic light chain, examines antibodies that may be a valuable component for an antidote for individuals exposed to Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs).

BoNTs are a family of toxins that cause the disease botulism, but they can also be used as bioterror agents that cause paralysis when they poison the neurons that transmit the signals responsible for breathing and muscular movement. Dr. Dessain’s Lab has been studying how to use monoclonal antibodies to neutralize the effect of the toxin in individuals who have been exposed. Current antibody research has shown to protect against BoNT exposure by clearing the toxins from the bloodstream before it reaches the neurons. Dr. Adekar’s experiments have revealed an additional novel mechanism of BoNT neutralization where an antibody remains attached to the BoNT and follows it into the cell, directly inhibiting the ability of the BoNT to degrade its target neurons. This is a previously undescribed way in which antibodies can neutralize the toxicity of BoNT.

Sharad P. Adekar, MBBS, MD, recently completed his post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Dessain and joined LIMR in December 2007 as a Scientist. He received his MBBS from the B.J. Medical College in Pune, India and received the post-graduate M.D. degree in Medical Microbiology. This is the fourth peer-reviewed publication for Dr. Adekar in 2008.

Scott K. Dessain, MD, PhD joined LIMR in December 2007. He received his M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine, his Ph.D. in Biology from Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and completed post-graduate medical training at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana Farber/Partners Cancer Care, all in Boston, MA. He also was a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA, working in the laboratory of the internationally renowned cancer biologist, Dr. Robert Weinberg. In 2000, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA, where he pursued research on the cloning of human antibodies and practiced oncology with a specialty in hematologic malignancies and bone marrow transplantation.

Dr. Dessain is also involved in the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program at the Lankenau Hospital, participating in the mentoring of fellows in the clinic and in the laboratory. He is the Assistant Director of Clinical Research and a member of the Main Line Health Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Patents submitted by Dr. Dessain and Dr. Adekar have created a technology platform licensed to Immunome, Inc., a start-up company that has unique technologies for producing cloning high-affinity, biologically active human antibodies for use as therapeutics and diagnostics. At Immunome, Inc., Dr. Adekar is the Director of Antibody Research and Dr. Dessain is the President and Chief Scientific Officer. Immunome is actively seeking academic and industrial partners interested in developing and commercializing human monoclonal antibodies.

Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
Founded in 1927, the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research center located in suburban Philadelphia on the campus of the Lankenau Hospital. Part of Main Line Health, LIMR is one of the few freestanding, hospital-associated medical research centers in the nation. The faculty and staff at the Institute are dedicated to advancing an understanding of the causes of cancer and heart disease. They use this information to help improve diagnosis and treatment of these diseases as well as find ways to prevent them. They are also committed to extending the boundaries of human health and well-being through technology transfer and education directed at the scientific, clinical, business and lay public communities. For more information visit our web site at www.limr.org.

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Contact Information
Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
Tava Shanchuk
610-645-3429
Contact
www.limr.org
Erin DeStefano
(610) 645-8144

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