Combination antibody may fight bird flu

17-10-2006 | |

Bioengineered bird flu antibodies with a related human antibody attached could work as both vaccine and treatment during a major outbreak in people, a new study indicates.

Researchers reporting in the latest issue of the open-access journal Respiratory Research have produced ‘humanised monoclonal’ antibodies.
Mice who received the antibodies via injection three days before being exposed to H5N1 were completely protected from the virus, say a team of researchers from the DSO National Laboratory in Singapore and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee in the US.
Higher doses of these antibodies were also effective against the disease when given after infection, the researchers added.
“We have shown here the proof of principle that passive antibody therapy can be an effective tool for both prophylaxis against and treatment of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus, providing the immediate immunity needed, which combined with social distancing could limit the transmission of H5N1 to others and contain a future influenza pandemic,” the researchers said.
Other experts were only cautiously optimistic.
Proof of principle is fine, said Dr John Treanor, a professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester, but lots of different things need to be done to put the findings to practical use.
Ultimately, he said, “what you really need to do is to take some product like this monoclonal antibody, find people with H5N1 influenza and see if it makes them better.”