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10 - 01 - 2018

Will there soon be a treatment against MERS that will be produced by cows?

Human antibodies against the MERS virus that were produced by cattle, are effective in a mouse infection model and are well tolerated in phase 1 clinical trial.
 
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. It has since conquered 27 countries and killed one-third of the 2000 people who contracted it. There are no drugs to treat this disease.

 



In order to develop a treatment, a biotechnology company used genetically modified cattle to produce fully humanized antibodies instead of cattle antibodies.
 
Vaccinated with inactivated MERS viruses these animals produced human anti-MERS antibodies named SAB-301 that were purified from their plasma.
                                                                                                    
The efficacy of these antibodies as well as the necessary concentrations were verified and evaluated in a mouse model of MERS infection.
 
A phase 1 clinical trial was conducted on 28 healthy volunteers at different doses. The antibodies were administered six times for 90 days. No adverse effects linked to the treatment were observed.
 
The next step is a clinical trial with people infected with the MERS virus.
 
If the results are positive, we will have a way to produce human antibodies in large quantities in just 3 months against identified human pathogens.