India sources antibodies from Australia to fight Nipah virus

NEW DELHI: India is sourcing monoclonal antibodies (m102.4), a novel drug therapy that is under evaluation for treatment of

Nipah virus

infection and has been used on compassionate basis in some countries, from


to treat persons affected by the disease in Kerala. The drug, m102.4, was initially developed to treat Henipavirus, another bat-borne disease.
Early-stage trials by the University of Queensland in Australia have shown that m102.4 can help in management of NiV which is also bat-borne and highly fatal.

According to Dr

Rajiv Bahl

, the Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), nearly one in every two persons affected by the disease succumbs to it. “Covid-19 had only 2-3% mortality rate. The mortality rate of NiV is 40-70% which is very high,” Dr Bahl said, adding that there is no known cure for the disease.

Monoclonal antibodies, the ICMR DG added, are still under trial for efficacy to treat NiV but anecdotal reports from its compassionate use in individuals affected by the disease have shown some positive outcomes.

“In 2018, when Kerala witnessed a


virus outbreak, we had sourced a few doses of monoclonal antibodies from the University of Queensland in Australia, but they weren’t used. We have asked for at least 20 more units again for treating patients,” Dr Bahl said.

Monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in labs that seek out the antigens (foreign materials) and stick to them in order to destroy them.

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