ICMR may soon be able to neutralise the effects of Nipah virus using anti-body developed in Australia; death toll rises to 16

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) may soon be able to neutralise the effects of the Nipah Virus which has killed 16 people in Kerala.

People wear safety masks as a precaution against the Nipah virus. File image. PTI

Representational Image. PTI

The ICMR had earlier reached out to the the University of Queensland, Australia, which has developed an antibody to combat and 'neutralise' the virus. The antibody was expected to reach India on Thursday.

"The Human Monoclonal Antibody (M 102.4) is a non-patented drug, developed by Dr Christopher C Broder from Australia. The antibody is still referred by a number and not a name as clinical trials are yet to be completed. This is an antibody and not a vaccine, which can neutralise the effects of the Nipah Virus," says The News Minute.

The antibody has not been tested on humans so far.

"We have asked them to give their monoclonal antibody for conducting a test in India to find out if it can neutralise the Nipah virus in humans. In Australia, it has only been tried in vitro (happening outside the body in artificial conditions, often in a test tube) and has been found to be effective. But it has not been tested on humans," Dr Balram Bhargava, ICMR Director General, said while clarifying that it will not lead to creation of vaccine

ICMR is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research. "We are preparing a dossier on what will be methodology and what would be the regulatory process so that we can fast track the process," he said.

"Efforts are also underway to procure the cell line which Australia had used to develop the antibody. Once the ICMR gets the cell line, India can start manufacturing the antibodies," The News Minute reported.

According to Dr Bhargava, Australia is ready to share as it will help generate data on the efficacy of the antibody. "It is not yet sure how much it will be effective," he said, adding the infection caused by Nipah virus has a high mortality rate (50-70 percent).

According to National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, a drug named ribavirin has been shown to be effective against the viruses in vitro, but human investigations to date have been inconclusive and the clinical usefulness of the drug remains uncertain.

The death toll due to outbreak of Nipah virus rose to 16 in Kerala, with one more person succumbing to the deadly virus in Kozhikode on Thursday morning, reports said.

Meanwhile, there are reports of dead bats being found on the premises of a government school in Himachal Pradesh, samples of which have been sent for testing to NIV, Pune, to ascertain the reason behind their deaths

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. Currently, there is no vaccine or drug for the treatment of the NIV infection. The treatment for human cases is supportive and management treatment along with intensive supportive care

The virus spreads through close contact with people's secretions and excretions. Eating food which may have the droplets of saliva and urine of infected bats can lead to the transmission of the virus. Earlier, cases of Nipah virus were reported from Siliguri in 2001 and Nadia in 2007 in the eastern state of West Bengal and around 47 deaths were reported.

With inputs from PTI


Updated Date: Jun 01, 2018 13:44 PM

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