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Antibody that fights MERS found

In infected mice, treatment made virus undetectable

By
3:00pm, July 27, 2015
MERS virus particles

DEADLY TARGET  A human immune protein might combat the MERS virus, shown here in yellow in a camel’s cells. No vaccine currently exists for MERS, which has infected over 1,300 people and killed around 500 since the virus was first identified in 2012.  

By mining the immune cells of a patient that beat the MERS virus, scientists have identified a protein that could help prevent and treat the deadly disease.

When tested in mice, the protein targeted the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome. The protein could be used to develop vaccines or treatments to protect people from the MERS virus, an international team of researchers reports July 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The protein, an antibody named LCA60, seems to latch onto the MERS virus, preventing it from infecting a cell. When given to infected mice, LCA60 dramatically reduced the amount of the MERS virus in the lungs within days. Even in the worst-case scenario, for every 100 viruses at the start of the treatment, only one remained after three days. In most mice, the virus became undetectable within five days of treatment. The antibody fought the

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