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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More