West Nile virus alarmed Americans when it made its first U.S. appearance in New York City in 1999. It has since spread from coast to coast, sickened more than 16,000 Americans and killed more than 600. As the virus spread, medical investigators hastened research to develop an effective vaccine or therapy. None currently exist, but a newly published paper by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis points to a promising treatment. This research, published today online by Nature Medicine, was funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
The research team developed an infection-fighting antibody that mimics one produced by people whose immune systems successfully fend off the West Nile virus. The researchers tested their antibody in mice and say its success warrants further development and testing in people with West Nile disease.
"West Nile virus has emerged in the United States as a regular seasonal threat, particularly for people over 50. We currently do not have a proven therapy for people with serious West Nile disease, so we will continue to aggressively pursue all promising leads for an effective treatment," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID.
Linda Joy | EurekAlert!
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