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J Clin Virol. 2005 Dec;34 Suppl 1:S70-4.

DNA-designed avian IgY antibodies: novel tools for research, diagnostics and therapy.

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INSERM Unit 271, 151 Cours Albert Thomas, 69003 Lyon, France.


We have recently demonstrated, using the duck Hepatitis B virus (DHBV) model, closely related to human HBV, that following DNA immunization of breeding ducks with a plasmid encoding the targeted protein, specific and biologically active IgY (egg yolk immunoglobulines) are vertically transmitted from their serum into the egg yolk from which they can be extracted and purified. Thus an egg can be considered as a small "factory" for antibody production, since about 60-100 mg of purified IgY can be obtained from each egg yolk of a DNA-immunized duck. One of the major advantages of this new method of "DNA-designed" IgY antibodies is their production via immunization with a gene vector that expresses a corresponding antibody in situ in the cells of an avian host. Therefore this approach allows direct generation of antibodies from plasmid DNA and avoids the costly and tedious preparation of purified antigens required for conventional antibody production. In addition, duck IgY are of remarkable high affinity, avidity and are highly neutralizing. Moreover, the epitope pattern of IgY generated by DNA immunization of ducks is closely related to that observed in viral infection. Such duck IgY are also of particular value as immunodiagnostic tools, since they do not cross-react serologically with mammalian immunoglobulins and complement. Because IgY are resistant to the gastric barrier, the recently described DNA-designed IgY specific to H. pylori Urease B can be of particular interest for passive immunotherapy of gastrointestinal tract infections. Another interesting application is the recent generation in our laboratory of DNA-designed IgY antibodies specific to HBsAg mutants. These antibodies are currently being used to design new diagnostic assay for detection of HBV mutants that are undetectable by actual tests. Moreover, this approach allowing a quick and inexpensive production of a new generation of antibodies will provide pertinent tools to link the fields of genomics and protcomics.

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