Kottayam: There were unconfirmed reports that a small consignment of medicines to resist the deadly Nipah virus has arrived from Australia. The central government as well as the world health organization were guiding the state to procure M 102.4 human monoclonal antibody from Australia.
The drug M 102.4 was developed by Australia as part of its intensive programmes to control epidemics caused by Nipah and Hendra viruses. This drug is considered the most effective remedy against Nipah and Hendra.
Nipah and Hendra
Nipah virus (NIV) and Hendra virus (HEV) are closely related, belonging to the same genus as well as family – Paramyxoviridae. As there are several similarities between the two viruses, the same drug can act on both.
Hendra was first detected at Queensland state in Australia in 1994. The disease initially affected horses and their keepers.
Nipah virus was detected among pigs at Nipah in Malaysia’s Perak region in 1995. Initially itself it was presumed that the virus was similar to Hendra. Later it was given the name Nipah. In Australia as well as Malaysia the virus was spread by Pteropus bats. Though symptoms caused by both viral infections are similar, Nipah is more deadly. While the mortality rate of patients affected by Hendra is 60%, the figure is 75% for Nipah.
M 102.4 human monoclonal antibody is not exactly a drug. It is still referred by a number and not a name as clinical trials are still going on. There are several procedures to be completed before naming it. It is a chemical constituted by antibodies that can fight against the virus. The drug was developed by scientists in Queensland after the Hendra outbreak in that region. As many as 620 people had been affected by Hendra there, of whom 322 succumbed to the disease. Later, the drug was used on 13 Australian citizens and an American as an emergency trial.
Monoclonal antibody and anti-rabies treatment
Monoclonal antibody is the last resort during treatment of severe viral infections. Another monoclonal antibody is used to combat rabies infection which is also caused by a virus.
Trial on monkeys proves successful
The antibody against Hendra was tested on African green monkeys and the experiment proved successful. The antibody resisted the viral infection.
The virus is spread by a bat, commonly called flying fox. It belongs to the Pteropus genus and is commonly found in Africa, Asia-Pacific region and the Philippines.