Antibody guards primates against lethal Hendra virus

Scientists working at a secured lab in Montana say a human antibody proved highly effective in guarding against a rare but highly lethal virus in a primate study. Investigators injected the deadly Hendra virus--which has killed about half of the people infected by it--in 14 African monkeys. Twelve of those monkeys were treated with the m102.4 antibody and lived. The two untreated monkeys both died.

The animal data build on the unique case of a mother and daughter who were both exposed to the Hendra virus in Australia. Both were treated with the antibody and lived.

''I think this is a very promising therapy, especially when you consider that it was still strong three days later,'' lead author Thomas Geisbert, from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, tells the AFP. ''What's also interesting is that this antibody has strong activity against Nipah virus as well, which is extremely similar to Hendra.''

According to The New York Times, the Nipah virus has killed 251 of the 475 people who caught it.

- here's the study
- here's the report from the AFP
- here's The New York Times story

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