Junin Virus: Scientists Close To Potential Treatment

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A team of scientists has found a way to tackle the Junin virus, the infectious agent responsible for Argentine hemorrhagic fever. The team claims that their discovery could lead to the development of a vaccine for the deadly virus. Junin virus is spread by rodents. It has been identified as a high-priority agent by the US Department of Homeland Security. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also categorized the virus as a Category A Priority Pathogen. Such pathogens pose the highest risk to the public health and national security. The research team has created a laboratory-engineered antibody that provides complete protection against the Junin virus. The antibody has been created by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from various universities and biopharmaceutical firms, including The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. World To Face New SARS-Like Virus That Could Infect More Humans If left untreated, Junin virus can lead to the death of 20 to 30 percent of the infected individuals. The combination of unspecific symptoms, slow onset and hemorrhagic fever poses a delay in the timely diagnosis of the disease. It also makes the virus a great public threat.Like us on Facebook So far, there are no drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of the disease. The only treatment method is the transfer of plasma from a survivor to the infected individual. However, the technique of plasma transfer has its own challenges. The plasma is available in limited quantity, the quality is sometimes compromised and there is an associated risk of transfusion-borne diseases. During the recent study, the team of researchers gave three monoclonal antibodies to guinea pigs. The animals were subjected to a lethal dose of Junin virus two days prior to treatment with antibodies. All of the guinea pigs who received a dose of either of the three antibodies survived till the end of the study. This was highly unlikely in the absence of any kind of treatment. “What makes the study unique is that we observed complete protection against death, even when treatment was delayed six days after Junin virus infection when animals were showing signs of disease,” said senior author of the paper, Thomas Geisbert, in a statement. “This recent success of the antibody therapy against Junin virus is a key step in its development as a therapeutic for use in people.” Photo Sources: Flickr, Pixabay