A team of researchers headed by Professor Paul Zhou of the Institute Pasteur of Shanghai, affirms has found an antibody able to neutralize almost all known varieties of the H5N1 avian influenza virus, an important advance to obtain a medicine against this fatal disease.
Zhou pointed out that the antibody was developed by one of his doctoral students, Hu Hongxing, from blood samples taken from a patient with virus that suddenly healed when receiving a transfusion of a immune person to H5N1.
At least two newspapers carry reports about the study on Saturday, the Chinese “South China Morning Post” and specialized “Journal of Virology”.
Following the discovery, the blood sample was distributed to various researches institutes with the purpose to development, that any of them as fast as possible, a reliable antibody against the virus, which currently has mortality rate of about 50%.
In the scientific middle had praise for the study, but also cautions because still be necessary wait to see if the discovery will lead to a vaccine’s reliable and commercially viable, said Dr Guan Yi from University of Hong Kong.
Zhou admitted the long effort of analysis and verification of results that have ahead the institutes that hold the samples. To illustrate the challenge size he compared with “finding a needle in the seabed of the Pacific”. This all, with aggravating factor that validity of blood samples for research expire after a few days, so the race against the clock.
At December 31th, a bus driver died after contracting the H5N1 virus, the first death in a year and half in the country by Avian Influenza. Over 300 people died worldwide due to the avian influenza since the virus first appeared in 2003, according to World Health Organization (OMS). During this period, H5N1 caused the sacrifice of 400 millions of birds, causing losses about US$ 20 billion for the industry.
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