Antibodies to fight chikungunya developed

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London, July 9 (IANS) The first large panel of antibody treatments against chikungunya virus have been developed.

Transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes, it’s one of the largest outbreaks of any virus in the world.

Until now, there has been no effective treatment for the virus infection, and there is no licensed vaccine to prevent it.

The research team started about two years ago acquiring blood from people who had chikungunya as children and has isolated three dozen chikungunya antibodies so far.

“Amazingly even decades after an infection, people still have cells in their blood making antibodies for chikungunya,” said lead author James Crowe from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

The study appeared in the current issue of Cell Host and Microbe. The team developed a technology to pull the B-cells (which secrete antibodies) from the blood, and using molecular biology, make antibody drugs.

They are testing in model systems, but the goal is to test one or more of the antibodies in human beings in about a year.

“Once the drug is developed and tested in humans, it would be given to infected people early in the infection, prior to the debilitating joint pain,” Crowe said.

The virus is not spread from person to person but spreads with a domino effect from an infected mosquito to a person and from that person to a previously uninfected mosquito, and on to the next person.

“A vaccine that induces long-term protection could be more convenient and cost-effective in the long run than giving shots of the antibody to try to prevent infection,” Crowe added.

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