Direct Long-acting Antibodies: Updating the Language of RSV Prevention to Reflect the Evolution of mAbs


, Vaccination


Background: The language of medicine is constantly evolving, typically to better describe a new understanding of disease, adjust to changing social sensibilities, or simply to reflect a new drug class or category. We address the need for an updated language around monoclonal antibodies, or “mAbs”—a widely used medical term, but one which is now too general to accurately reflect the range of mAb pharmaceuticals, their effects, and the intended patients.

Methods: The question of “what should we call a monoclonal antibody immunisation against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to ensure accurate understanding of the product?” was the basis for a virtual advisory panel in May 2022. The panel was convened by Sanofi with the intention of reviewing appropriate language in terminology in the context of mAb-based prophylaxis for RSV. The panel comprised several global experts on RSV and vaccination, a trained linguist specializing in doctor-patient interactions and medical language, and several experts in marketing and communications.

Results: We suggest the term “Direct Long-acting Antibody” (DLA) for a specific sub-class of mAbs for use in prevention of RSV disease in infants. This terminology should differentiate from other mAbs, which are generally not used as therapies in infants.

Conclusions: This change will more accurately convey the specific mode of action of a mAb in infants, and how it could impact the prevention of communicable diseases: this class of mAbs is not an active treatment, but rather will offer direct and rapid protection lasting at least 5 months.


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