Singapore, French scientists discover antibodies to chikungunya virus

Published: 18/02/2011 05:00



A team of scientists from
Singapore and France have discovered two antibodies that could neutralize
several chikungunya strains, a breakthrough that may have brought scientists one
step closer to developing a treatment for the disease.

The two monoclonal antibodies, which
were developed from single cells, could neutralize several strains of the virus
in a laboratory setting, the Straits Times reported on Wednesday.

The disease spread by the Aedes
mosquito affected more than 1, 000 people over the past two years in Singapore.
It causes symptoms similar to those of dengue such as fever, joint pains, chills
and nausea. The symptoms typically last up to 10 days or even longer before
going away on its own.

There is no specific treatment for
the disease at present.

The international team of 12
scientists from the Singapore Immunology Network and French biopharmaceutical
company Vivalis, led by Lucile Warter, started research in August 2009 using B
cells — the white blood cells that play a key role in immunity.

The cells were taken from a donor
infected with chikungunya and given the ability to proliferate indefinitely,
amplified and cloned.

The scientists then used the cells
to identify and generate the antibodies using a specific technique of Vivalis.

The technology was the only one that
enabled the scientists to identify and generate human monoclonal antibodies,
which are more efficient and have less side effects than conventional polyclonal
drugs developed from multiple cells, Warter said.

The antibodies work by binding more
efficiently with antigens, foreign particles that enter the body, as they target
only certain kinds of antigens.

Warter said the treatment would not
be a vaccine but a passive immunotherapy, adding that the treatment could be in
the market in perhaps 10 years.

The finding was published in the
Journal of Immunology last month.


Provide by Vietnam Travel

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