News / Health

Researchers Develop Experimental Treatment for Deadly Nipah Virus

FILE - Bats fly over a tree at a central park in Dhaka, Bangladesh, March, 6, 2008.
FILE - Bats fly over a tree at a central park in Dhaka, Bangladesh, March, 6, 2008.
Jessica Berman

Researchers are a step closer to developing a treatment for the deadly Nipah virus, a disease transmitted by fruit bats that has a high mortality rate.  The disease is most common in Asia and South Asia.

Nipah virus causes fever, headache, drowsiness, mental confusion, and left untreated, it can progress to coma. It has a 90 percent mortality rate.  Although rare, it occasionally causes outbreaks among hundreds of people in Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and India through contact with the bodily fluids of infected fruit bats, including their urine.

The highly infectious virus is in the same class as Ebola, Marburg, and Hendra viruses. Currently, there's a serious Ebola outbreak in three countries in western Africa.

Researchers who work with Nipah must wear protective suits, gloves and face masks. Once infected, an individual can spread the illness to other people.

Now, a team of U.S. university and government researchers has discovered an antibody in uninfected individuals that fights the virus. They report their findings this week in Science Translational Medicine.

Lead researcher Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch says the human monoclonal antibody cured the test animals - African Green Monkeys - even as many as five days after the infection had set in. Otherwise, they would have died within eight to 10 days.

"We give 'em [them] the antibody and they are completely protected against Nipah.  So, that's really a unique aspect and really exciting for us," said Geisbert.

If developed as a therapy for people, that would give public health officials enough time to identify an outbreak and begin treatment.

Geisbert says the antibody is unlike a traditional vaccine, which stimulates the immune system to fight a virus or bacteria.

"The antibody pretty much attacks and targets and blocks the virus from replicating or making more virus particles," said Geisbert.

Because of the deadly nature of Nipah, and the fact that outbreaks occur so infrequently, Geisbert says human safety trials, along with data showing the drug cures sick animals, are enough to gain regulatory approval in the United States.  The process has implications for the development of treatments for other exotic diseases.

Australia, there have been outbreaks of a similar disease called Hendra among race horses.  Health officials there are interested in beginning a safety trial with the Nipah antibody, which is also effective against Hendra, by year's end.

While Nipah is rare, Geisbert says international travel could spread the virus to other countries.   

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid