This discovery can also be applied to people, said Maria Innes Barria, a microbiologist and coordinator of this study, which began in 2014 and whose first findings were published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The Hanta virus is an infection that transmits rodents to humans, and the subtype Andes, which affects the region of Chilean and Argentine Patagonia, is the only thing that has been shown to spread between people.
Anda-hantavirus infection leads to an extremely dangerous condition known as hentivirusal cardiopulmonary syndrome (SCPH), which can cause fever, headache, low blood pressure and heart and pulmonary insufficiency, which is a serious problem due to its high mortality.
The results of the study showed that the antibodies of surviving humans protected the animals from the suffering of SCPH, even when they were administered after the antalum infection of hantavirus.
This suggests that they can be used as a prophylactic treatment after exposure to the disease, which currently has no treatment options, according to the study.
“There is still no specific treatment for this infection, the only thing a doctor can do is supportive treatment in an ICU,” said Barria.
In 2017, 90 people were infected with the Andas mantavirus, of which 24 died from SCPH.
The most vulnerable to this group are people who live in rural areas or work in agricultural or forest areas and have a higher incidence among young people.
The working method of the study was to isolate antibodies from 27 patients who survived in the Andes and hantavirus or who showed milder symptoms.
The next step was the introduction of hamsters with a lethal dose of the virus, and then give them human antibodies, and in all of them SCPH was prevented and they survived.
“Hamsters have been used because this is the model that most closely resembles the symptoms and pathology of humans,” explains Barria.
Currently, the University of Concepcion is also developing a dose suitable for humans, and thus will be able to experience in clinical trials the effects of these isolated antibodies, which have been so successful in rodents.
In addition, as soon as the method is proven to prevent the development of SCPH when it is infected with Andasa Hantavir, scientists want to learn from mice, if it also works to prevent infection of this virus.
“Our idea is to test it as well as prevention with animals, to introduce a dose before infection, so that we increase the spectrum of action of these antibodies,” added Barria, who hopes that with this detection a substance can be developed that prevents infection.
The expert pointed out that it can serve as a “short-term vaccine,” since according to the characteristics of the antibodies, “people will be protected for a short period of time”.
“Even if the defense lasts three weeks or up to two months, it will also be useful for at-risk groups: forest workers, agricultural workers, tourists who went to Patagonia or even faced a big outbreak of a hunt,” he added.
The researcher also pointed out that this discovery may be a cure for other types of hunt present in Europe and Asia.
“The problem is not technology, desire, or ideas, but the financing that we need to find out how far this research can go,” Barria concluded.
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