Australian researchers claim breakthrough against Hendra virus

20:32, October 30, 2009      

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Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has made a breakthrough in the battle against the deadly Hendra virus on Friday.

A treatment that shows great potential to save the lives of people who become infected with the virus has been developed by a scientific team from the CSIRO and the United States.

They demonstrated that administering human monoclonal antibodies after exposure to Nipah virus, which is closely related to Hendra virus, protected animals.

A monoclonal antibody is an antibody produced by a cell cloned in a laboratory, which produces antibodies more abundantly and uniformly than a natural cell.

According to the CSIRO's Deborah Middleton, who led the experiments at Australia's maximum biosecurity facility in Victoria's city of Geelong, the findings are extremely encouraging.

"Our research clearly suggests that an effective treatment for Hendra virus infections in humans should be possible, given the very strong cross-reactive activity this antibody has against Hendra virus," she said.

"As Hendra and Nipah viruses cause severe disease in humans, a successful application of this antibody as a post-exposure therapy will likely require early intervention," Middleton said.

First identified in Brisbane and isolated by CSIRO scientists in 1994, Hendra virus spreads from flying foxes and has regularly infected horses in Australia.

Of the 12 equine outbreaks, four have led to human infection, with four of the seven known human cases being fatal, the most recent of these in September.

Source: Xinhua
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