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Tufts University Gets Patent for Kidney Disease Treatment

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Researchers at Tufts University’s veterinary school in Grafton, Massachusetts have received a U.S. patent for an antibody-based treatment for hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal outcome of E. coli poisoning and a leading cause of kidney failure in children. The Tufts technology covered by the patent, developed by microbiology professor Saul Tzipori, uses human monoclonal antibodies, which differs from other methods to treat the disease.

HUS is caused by forms of E. coli that produce Shiga toxins and result in about 100,000 annual cases of illness in the United States alone. Typically, individuals with the disease develop bloody diarrhea and recover. However, from 5 to 15 percent of children, the elderly, and people whose immune systems are compromised may also develop HUS after several days.

The condition causes kidney damage and can lead to chronic, irreversible kidney dysfunction, which can be fatal. HUS can also cause damage to the central nervous system. There is currently no cure for the condition.

The condition is believed to be caused by one of the two types of Shiga toxin excreted by E. coli. Tzipori’s technology employs human monoclonal antibodies that seek out, bind, and eventually neutralize  the toxins. Tzipori and colleagues generated antibodies from transgenic mice bred to express human antibodies, which Tzipori says creates a safer, longer-lasting, and more effective treatment.

The patent is currently licensed to Lakewood-Amedex Inc., a biotechnology company in Sarasota, Florida.

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