The high toxicity of ricin and its ease of production have made it a major bioterrorism threat worldwide. There is however no efficient and approved treatment for poisoning by ricin inhalation, although there have been major improvements in diagnosis and therapeutic strategies. We describe the development of an anti-ricin neutralizing monoclonal antibody (IgG 43RCA-G1) and a device for its rapid and effective delivery into the lungs for an application in humans. The antibody is a full-length IgG and binds to the ricin A-chain subunit with a high affinity (KD=53pM). Local administration of the antibody into the respiratory tract of mice 6h after pulmonary ricin intoxication allowed the rescue of 100% of intoxicated animals. Specific operational constraints and aerosolization stresses, resulting in protein aggregation and loss of activity, were overcome by formulating the drug as a dry-powder that is solubilized extemporaneously in a stabilizing solution to be nebulized. Inhalation studies in mice showed that this formulation of IgG 43RCA-G1 did not induce pulmonary inflammation. A mesh nebulizer was customized to improve IgG 43RCA-G1 deposition into the alveolar region of human lungs, where ricin aerosol particles mostly accumulate. The drug delivery system also comprises a semi-automatic reconstitution system to facilitate its use and a specific holding chamber to maximize aerosol delivery deep into the lung. In vivo studies in monkeys showed that drug delivery with the device resulted in a high concentration of IgG 43RCA-G1 in the airways for at least 6h after local deposition, which is consistent with the therapeutic window and limited passage into the bloodstream.
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