Monoclonal antibody produced in plants efficiently treats West Nile virus infection in mice

Huafang Laia, Michael Engleb, Anja Fuchsb, Thomas Kellera, Syd Johnsonc, Sergey Gorlatovc, Michael S. Diamond, Qiang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, West Nile virus (WNV) has spread to all 48 of the lower United States as well as to parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America, with outbreaks of neuroinvasive disease occurring annually. At present, no therapeutic or vaccine is available for human use. Epidemics of WNV and other emerging infectious disease threats demand cost-efficient and scalable production technologies that can rapidly transfer effective therapeutics into the clinical setting. We have previously reported that Hu-E16, a humanized anti-WNV mAb, binds to a highly conserved epitope on the envelope protein, blocks viral fusion, and shows promising postexposure therapeutic activity. Herein, we generated a plant-derived Hu-E16 mAb that can be rapidly scaled up for commercial production. Plant Hu-E16 was expressed at high levels within 8 days of infiltration in Nicotiana benthamiana plants and retained high-affinity binding and potent neutralizing activity in vitro against WNV. A single dose of plant Hu-E16 protected mice against WNV-induced mortality even 4 days after infection at rates that were indistinguishable from mammalian-cell-produced Hu-E16. This study demonstrates the efficacy of a plant-produced mAb against a potentially lethal infection several days after exposure in an animal challenge model and provides a proof of principle for the development of plant-derived mAbs as therapy against emerging infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2419-2424
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 9 2010


  • Flavivirus
  • Plant-made pharmaceuticals
  • mAb therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Monoclonal antibody produced in plants efficiently treats West Nile virus infection in mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this