Saturday 18 June 2016

New Antibody Treatment For Avian Flu

Scientists from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center have isolated human antibodies against a specific type of bird flu (H7N9 strain). This type of bird flu has killed in excess of 200 people in China since 2012. The influenza poses a risk for the future, in terms of a pandemic threat.
Avian flu, according to the World Health Organization, is an infectious viral disease of birds. Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans; however some, such as A(H5N1) and A(H7N9), have caused serious infections in people. To add to this, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds these viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
In response to the potential threat, scientists have been working on treatment options. In an important step forwards, the Vanderbilt researchers have developed a method for speedily producing large quantities of human monoclonal antibodies against specific viral targets.
For the process, the science group isolated monoclonal antibodies and then mixed these with a viral surface envelope protein that is specific for the H7 bird flu virus. The new process has been successfully tested on mice. Human trials have yet to take place.
This process is not to produce a vaccine; in theory it will offer short term protection in terms of boosting the human body’s antibodies. The antibodies could also help with people who have recently become infected with the bird flu, helping their bodies to battle the disease.
The findings are published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The paper is titled “H7N9 influenza virus neutralizing antibodies that possess few somatic mutations.”

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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