< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Monday, September 08, 2003

Of special interest to Boulderites

Israelis develop West Nile vaccine
Israeli microbiologists have developed the first passive vaccine against the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, which has killed thousands and infected many more around the world. In the U.S. alone, it has killed 282 and infected 4,156.

The vaccine, called Omr-IgG-am, is effective for six weeks. It is based on a protein group found in the blood's liquid component called immunoglobulin, which is taken from blood donors found to contain active antibodies against the virus, for which there is no available cure.

"This group contains all the antibodies that a human develops in his lifetime once he is exposed to bacteria, viruses and the like," said team leader Professor Bracha Rager. Until recently she was chief scientist of the Health Ministry, and is also a veteran researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's microbiology and immunology department. Her collaborator in the research was Dr. David Ben-Nathan of the Biological Institute in Ness Ziona.

The researchers succeeded in isolating the "defensive antibodies" produced from a group of proteins taken from Israeli blood donors who had come in contact with the virus. The antibodies were injected into mice who had been infected with the West Nile virus.

The disease was eliminated in the intentionally infected lab mice, and it has already promoted the recovery of a woman at Netanya's Laniado Hospital.

As a result of their work, published in the July issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, the vaccine is about to undergo clinical trials at a number of American hospitals, under supervision of the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The trials are being carried out in cooperation with the Israeli biotechnology company Omrix, which has purchased the rights to manufacture the vaccine.
Read it all at ISRAEL21c - A Focus Beyond the Conflict.