A ‘PASSIVE immunisation’ for Hendra virus should be available to people within three months in a world-first breakthrough following a successful Queensland Health trial.
Virus antibodies have been successfully trialled on 40 Queenslanders over the past year with no safety concerns identified, leading to a green light for mass usage.
The ‘passive immunisation’ will be given to people after they are exposed to a horse infected with Hendra virus, rather than pre-emptively as with vaccination.
“It is a good breakthrough and a uniquely Australian one. The Hendra virus doesn’t occur outside of Australia,” renowned specialist Dr Geoffrey Playford said.
“If somebody should have exposure to a Hendra affected horse it gives us a lot more confidence in administering the antibody to them in the knowledge that it’s safe.
“Experience shows there certainly will be a need for it.”
The antibody has already been used on 11 people who had been exposed to Hendra virus, with 10 surviving, but the antibody’s safety hadn’t been rigorously tested on healthy volunteers.
“The 11 who received the antibody following exposure to horses … that’s been done without this knowledge of safety … we didn’t know if it was definitively safe,” Dr Playford said.
Throughout the trial the volunteers were administered antibodies of various potencies while others got placebos.
Dr Playford, of the Princess Alexandra Hospital, said no dosage level was found to be unsafe for humans who should be protected by the antibodies for up to 16 weeks following exposure.
In 2010 Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young obtained a licence from the US Department of Defence to produce the experimental antibody for use on humans. All cases of human Hendra virus have occurred in Queensland with seven people falling ill and four of these dying. A Hendra virus vaccine is available for horses.
Flying foxes are hosts of the lethal virus and transmit it to horses through contact with body fluid and excretions.
Read at source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/hendra-virus-treatment-clears-final-hurdle-for-mass-human-use/news-story/319fd268493d82515067dc9cfe19b2eb