NIH-sponsored trial of enterovirus D68 therapeutic begins

July 1, 2024
Monoclonal antibody developed from blood of recovering patients.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is sponsoring a clinical trial to evaluate the safety of an investigational monoclonal antibody to treat enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), which can cause severe respiratory and neurological diseases such as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) – similar to polio.

Scientists are striving to better understand AFM, which has emerged in the United States with spikes in cases every other year, primarily in the late-summer months over the last decade. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified increases in AFM cases in 2014, 2016, and 2018. EV-D68 is a virus of growing public health concern due to its association with the intermittent AFM outbreaks.

There are no Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for severe EV-D68 infection or AFM. Standard care is limited to supportive treatment and treatment for immune disorders, which has not been comprehensively evaluated. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others.

Between 2017 and 2019, scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, identified and isolated a neutralizing antibody, called EV68-228, from patients recovering from EV-D68 infection. Then, with collaborators from Utah State University, KBio, Inc., and ZabBio, the scientists developed an experimental antibody, called EV68-228-N, for testing. In laboratory models, the monoclonal antibody potently neutralized multiple clinical EV-D68 strains across multiple epidemic years. Kbio, Inc., is using its plant-based protein development platform to manufacture EV68-228-N.

Led by principal investigator C. Buddy Creech, M.D., M.P.H., at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Phase 1 study sponsored by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will evaluate the safety of EV68-228-N, how long it lasts in the body, and the most effective dose. The trial also will enroll participants at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and be led by E. Adrianne Hammershaimb, M.D. The study is being conducted in collaboration with academic medical centers across the U.S. through the NIAID-funded Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium, which includes the NIAID-funded Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units.

Clinical Trial NCT06444048 will enroll 36 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 49. Six will receive a placebo (control group) and 30—in groups of 10—will receive either a 3, 10 or 30 mg/kg dose of EV68-228-N intravenously. As part of the safety evaluation, scientists will monitor the first two study participants in each group receiving the experimental treatment for at least 72 hours before others receive the infusion. Researchers will then monitor and evaluate study participants during nine subsequent in-person examinations over the next 120 days.

NIH release