Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How Horses could help fight "BIRD FLU"

Horse serum has been used for years as a souce of "gamma globulins" (anti-bodies) for many species including man. Now a group of scientists in China are using antibody fragments from horses to fight the H5N1 virus. "The researchers included Jiahai Lu, PhD, of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. They're among experts worldwide working on bird flu treatments." The article is in and was written by Miranda Hitti from WebMD.

"First, the scientists prepared H5N1 virus in hen's eggs. Next, they immunized horses to make antibodies to H5N1.

Lu and colleagues took fragments of those antibodies, mixed them with H5N1 virus, and then spread the mixture on plates holding dog cells.

Dog cells were only exposed to H5N1 or the horse antibody fragments. For comparison, other dog cells were left alone, without either H5N1 or the horse antibodies' fragments.

The researchers checked on the dog cells every day for the next five days. The dog cells exposed to both the horse antibody fragments and H5N1 didn't die. But H5N1 took root and killed dog cells that were not treated with the horse antibody fragments."

They then tested this treatment on mice using low,medium and high doses of antibodies and following.....

  • The lower dose of horse antibody fragments brought 70% protection.
  • The medium and higher doses brought 100% protection.
  • The mice that got the horse serum without antibodies got no protection and all died.
.....while not tested on humans yet, it is promising as a large, inexpensive initial treatment in acute cases. The downside is that these antibodies are foreign proteins and as such trigger your own immune system to attack them. If you have been exposed to equine serum in the past then this could pose a problem for you, so called "Serum Sickness", otherwise a one shot deal should be OK.

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