SANTIAGO DE CHILE.- Scientists at the University of Concepción in Chile have found protection against the effects of ananda hantavirus infection that is currently working on rodents after isolating antibodies from people who have suffered from this disease.
This discovery can also be applied to people, said Maria Ines Baria, a microbiologist and coordinator of this study, which began in 2014 and whose first findings were published today in Science Translational Medicine.
The Hanta Virus is an infection that carries rodents to humans, and the Andean subtype, which affects Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia, is the only one that has been proven to spread to humans.
Andes hantavirus infection leads to an extremely dangerous condition, known as hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (SCPH), which can cause fever, headache, low blood pressure and heart and lung deficiency and is a major problem due to its high mortality.
The results of the study show that survivors' antibodies have prevented animals from suffering from SCPH, even when they were administered after anta hantavirus infection.
This suggests that they can be used as a preventative treatment after exposure to the disease, which at present has no treatment options, according to the study.
"There is no specific cure for this infection so far, the only thing the doctor can do is maintain treatment in the DIS," Barija said.
In 2017, 90 people were infected with ananda hantavirus, of which 24 were killed by SCPH.
The groups most vulnerable to this infection are people living in rural areas or working in agricultural or forest areas and having a higher incidence in young men.
The working method of the study is to isolate the antibodies of 27 patients who have survived ananda hantavirus or have shown a mild symptom.
The next step was to inject hamsters with lethal doses of the virus and then give them the human antibodies and in all of them SCPH was prevented and they survived.
"The hamsters have been used because it is the model that most closely resembles human symptomatology and pathology," explains Barría.
At the moment, the Concepcion University also develops a dose that is suitable for humans and thus can test in clinical trials the effects of these isolated antibodies that have been so successful in rodents.
Also, once it is proven that the method prevents the development of SCPH after being infected by Andes hantavirus, scientists want to study mice if they also prevent infection with this virus.
"Our idea is to prove it as a prophylaxis of the animals," he said, adding the dose before the infection, which would increase the spectrum of action of these antibodies, "said Barry, who hopes that this finding could develop a substance to prevent infection .
The expert said he could serve as a "short-term vaccine" because, due to the antibody's characteristic, "people will be protected for a short period of time."
"Even if the defense lasts for three weeks or up to two months, it would also be useful for risk groups: foresters, farm workers, tourists who went to Patagonia or even face a huge fire from the hut," he added.
The researcher also says that this discovery can be a cure for other types of hats that are found in Europe and Asia.
"The problem is not the technology, the desire or the ideas, and the funding we need to find out where this investigation can be," concluded Barrie.