Rockville, Md. (Oct. 30, 2009) A collaborative research team from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), Australian Animal Health Laboratory and National Cancer Institute, a component of the National Institutes of Health, reports a major step forward in the development of an effective therapy against two deadly viruses, Nipah virus and the related Hendra virus. The results of this finding appear Oct. 30, 2009, in the open access journal PLoS Pathogens at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000642.
Nipah and Hendra viruses are found in Pteropid fruit bats (flying foxes) and are characterized by their recent emergence as agents capable of causing illness and death in domestic animals and humans.
In experiments carried out in ferrets at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, where there is a high-level safety and security facility for working with live Nipah and Hendra viruses, the team of researchers demonstrated that giving an anti-virus human monoclonal antibody therapy after exposure to Nipah virus protected the animals from disease.
"These findings are extremely encouraging and clearly suggest the potential that a treatment for Hendra virus infection in a similar manner should be possible, given the very strong cross-reactive activity this antibody has against Hendra virus," said Deborah Middleton, D.V.M., Ph.D., who directed the animal experiments at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory.
Recent earlier work at the National Cancer Institute and USU resulted in the discovery and development of a human monoclonal antibody, m102.4, which could attack a critical component of both the Nipah and Hendra viruses. Antibodiesproteins found in blood or other bodily fluids of vertebratesare used by the immune system to identify and neutralize viruses and bacteria.
The study's corresponding
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Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine