Scientists may have hit gold in their fight against dengue. They have located a human antibody that can neutralise and kill its virus within two hours.
Significantly, they have also identified a way to reproduce this antibody in large quantities, potentially opening the door to a cure for dengue infected patients.
The symptoms of dengue are sudden-onset fever, headache (located behind the eyes), muscle and joint pains, and a rash. The alternative name for dengue, ‘break-bone fever,’ which comes from the associated muscle and joint pains.
This discovery was made by a combined team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and the Defence Medical & Environmental Research Institute, all based in Singapore.
By studying a group of cell lines from recovered dengue-infected patients over two years, the team identified the antibody, could attach itself strongly to a specific part of the dengue virus and inhibit it from attacking other cells.
The antibody eventually destroys the virus and at a much faster speed compared to existing anti-dengue compounds. It has been proven to increase the survival in a mouse model infected with the dengue virus, according to a NUS statement.
The World Health Organization estimates there may be 50-100 million dengue infections worldwide every year. With no approved vaccines or specific treatment available, dengue continues to be a public health concern.
This newly discovered antibody specifically treats DENV1, one of the four dengue serotypes, which accounts for up to 50 percent of the dengue cases in Southeast Asian countries.
The research team tested this new antibody with DENV1 types from these countries – with equally promising results, said Paul Macary, associate professor of microbiology at NUS Yong Loo Lin School, who as the principal investigator, led the research team.
“This represents the best candidate therapy that currently exists for dengue and thus is likely to be the first step in treating dengue infected patients who currently have no specific medicine or antibiotic to take and may take days to fully recover,” concludes Macary.