Major advance in human antibody therapy against deadly Nipah virus

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Washington, Oct 31 (ANI): A novel antibody treatment may spell the end of the deadly Nipah virus and the related Hendra virus, according to a new study.

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.

The research team from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), Australian Animal Health Laboratory and National Cancer Institute have developed a human monoclonal antibody, m102.4, which could attack a critical component of both the Nipah and Hendra viruses.

During the study carried out in ferrets, Dr Christopher C. Broder, professor of microbiology at USU, and Dr Katharine Bossart, a USU alumna, now an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, Boston University School of Medicine 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 Dr Deborah Middleton, D.V.M, who directed the animal experiments at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

"We now have good evidence that this antibody could save human lives and the insights offered about how it works also could potentially provide a starting point to developing tools for targeting other diseases," said study co-author Dr Dimiter S. Dimitrov, senior biomedical research scientist at the National Cancer Institute.

"We hope this demonstration of anti-viral activity will foster some immediate activities to facilitate further development for future use in humans," said Dr. Bossart.

"There are currently no licensed and approved vaccines or therapeutics for prevention and treatment of disease caused by these viruses for humans or livestock," said Dr. Broder.

The expert added: "This fully-human monoclonal antibody is the first antiviral agent against the Nipah and Hendra viruses that has a genuine potential for human therapeutic use." (ANI)

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