Hendra virus treatment to be produced by the University of Queensland
The agreement combines the efforts of Queensland Health, the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and a private foundation in the United States. It will allow AIBN to produce the Hendra monoclonal antibody, an experimental drug first developed in Washington by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory.
Monoclonal antibodies have proven to be promising treatments for diseases like arthritis and some cancers, says AIBN Director Peter Gray in a statement from the University of Queensland. The antibodies also have been involved in trials to fight infections like HIV and hepatitis.
Hendra virus first emerged in 1994. Only seven people (including two veterinarians) are known to have contracted the rare virus. The Hendra virus carries a human fatality rate of about 60 percent and 70 percent for animals. The virus is of particular concern for equine veterinarians, as the virus is transmitted through bodily fluids from infected horses. Horses get the disease from flying foxes (fruit-eating bats). All equine outbreaks identified so far have been limited to Australia. As reported in DVM Newsmagazine, last year an Australian equine practitioner died from complications caused by the virus.