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H5N1 conquered in lab

Nepal had its first confirmed case of bird flu in mid-January in Jhapa district. Over 23,000 chickens as well as hundreds of pigeons, ducks and parrots were culled and the outbreak was quickly contained Naresh Newar/IRIN
Nepal had its first confirmed case of bird flu in mid-January in Jhapa district. Over 23,000 chickens as well as hundreds of pigeons, ducks and parrots were culled and the outbreak was quickly contained
Scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard Medical School and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research have engineered antibodies that can fight off multiple influenza strains, including the highly contagious H5N1 avian flu virus. 

Researchers wrote that until now efforts to develop an all-purpose flu vaccine have been thwarted by the ever-mutating flu virus head, which tricks the body into producing antibodies that are only temporarily effective.

But the lab-created antibodies were able to attack in mice the virus’s hidden non-mutating “neck”, which prevented the virus from multiplying. Researchers have said it will be years before they learn if the antibodies will work in infected humans.

The H5N1 virus emerged in humans in Hong Kong in 1997; of the 408 cases confirmed since, 62 percent resulted in death, according to the World Health Organization as of 24 February.

More on avian flu here.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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