A new treatment to prevent infections acquired in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) discovered by researchers from IDIBELL and the Bellvitge University Hospital enters the Clinical Phase

  • The new treatment is a drug that eliminates the antibodies that bind to gram-negative bacteria and makes them resistant to destruction by the immune system.
  • RemAb Therapeutics, a IDIBELL’s spin-off, received authorization from the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) to begin clinical trials with the drug that belongs to a new generation of medicines that for the first time allow the suppression of antibodies.
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To destroy infectious agents, the immune system creates “specific” antibodies against the antigens that pathogens express. At the time of infection, “specific” antibodies are only present if a previous vaccination against the infectious agent has been received.

Before “specific” antibodies are produced, pathogens can be joined by antibodies that are naturally present in the individual (for example, those of blood groups), or that have been previously produced against other infectious agents.

The problem is that most of these “non-specific” antibodies do not have destructive capacity against the new pathogen. On the contrary, in many cases these “non-specific” antibodies can create a shield that prevents the immune system from acting, despite the production of “specific” antibodies against them.

Researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Bellvitge University Hospital (HUB) discovered that the elimination of “non-specific” antibodies that bind to gram-negative bacteria with a new drug allows the immune system to respond against these bacteria, preventing them from causing diseases, as presented in the scientific journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Gram-negative bacteria are most responsible for infections acquired within hospitals, particularly in the ICU, many of them being resistant to antibiotics, and there are no vaccines available to prevent them.

The development of new treatments against these bacteria is a priority objective for public health, as indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the European Commission. “It is the first time that it has been shown that immunity can be generated against infections by eliminating existing antibodies, without the need to produce new ones as vaccines do, which can be of great help to prevent infections like those acquired in hospitals” – points out Dr. Rafael Mañez, head of the IDIBELL research group and head of the Intensive Medicine Service at the HUB.

RemAb Therapeutics designed a platform of polymeric conjugates using HART technology (Harmful Antibody Removal Technology) from which they generated drugs that for the first time eliminate antibodies from the human body.

The first drug developed by RemAb Therapeutics is RA0127, which eliminates “non-specific” antibodies that facilitate infections caused by gram-negative bacteria. After confirming the effectiveness and safety of the new drug in various preclinical investigations, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) authorized the initiation of clinical trials with the new drug.

The drug is a “First-in-class-drug” that uses a new and unique mechanism of action to prevent hospital-acquired infections.


Removal of natural anti-aGal antibodies elicits protective immunity against Gram-negative bacterial infections. Front. Immunol. 2023;14:1232924.

doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1232924

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