Svineinfluensa bekjempet?


South China Morning Post melder om en spennende utvikling innenfor H1N1-forskning:

Local researchers have proven antibodies
from the plasma of recovered
swine flu patients are an effective
treatment for those with severe complications
from the virus that sparked
a global pandemic last year.
This emerged yesterday as Mexico
lifted its alert for swine flu, officially
ending the health emergency in
the country where it began 14 months
ago.


A joint study by the University of
Hong Kong (HKU), the Hong Kong
Red Cross and the Hospital Authority
– details of which have yet to be published
– has concluded antibodies
from the plasma of recovered patients
can kill the H1N1 virus in severely
ill patients. Researchers say a
similar treatment may also be effective
against other viruses, including
new ones. About 30 swine flu patients
in critical condition underwent the
treatment after they did not respond
to the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza
and most were cured.
Some were treated with the plasma,
known as convalescent plasma,
while others received a more concentrated
hyperimmunoglobulin made from it.
HKU clinical assistant professor
of medicine Dr Ivan Hung Fan-ngai,
who led the study, said antibody therapy
could be the “last defence”
against swine flu.
“We used the antibodies on
severe swine flu patients who did not
respond to antiviral treatment, neither
oral nor intravenous,” he said.
“Some of them died subsequently,
but we have enough evidence to conclude
that the antibodies are an effective
cure, as most patients have since
recovered.”
The H1N1virus surfaced in Mexico
in March last year. The World
Health Organisation declared a pandemic
in June after 74 countries and
territories reported cases. The virus
broke out in 214 countries and killed
at least 18,209 people. In Hong Kong,
282 patients had severe complications,
of whom 80 died.
Although the worldwide pandemic
and seasonal influenza activity
have now abated, scientists and
doctors are in a race to find new
weapons against the ever-changing
flu virus. Antivirals such as Tamiflu
are effective only if they are given early
enough, preferably within 48 hours
of the onset of illness. Rising drug resistance
also means an alternative
treatment is needed.
“While vaccination remains the
most effective prevention of flu, our
study shows that an antibody therapy
is an effective treatment, which can
possibly work on other viruses including
newly emerged ones,” Hung
said. “Swine flu may strike again this
summer, no one will know for sure.”
Hung said HKU had developed a
similar antibody therapy for Sars patients
in 2003 but there was insufficient
data to show its effectiveness.
Since August last year, HKU’s microbiology
department and the Red
Cross Blood Transfusion Service
have, through a HK$3 million research
project, recruited 881 recovered
swine flu patients as potential
blood donors.
About 300 litres of plasma was
subsequently collected from 680
people.
The research team then sent 276
litres of convalescent plasma to Australia
to produce hyperimmunoglobulin
– highly concentrated doses of
antibodies against the pandemic
H1N1virus – which can treat up to 40
patients. A further 20 litres of plasma,
enough to treat another 40 patients,
was stored in Hong Kong. Between
January and April this year, fewer
than 10 patients in Hong Kong were
given the hyperimmunoglobulin,
and about 20 others received plasma.
Antibody therapy is used only on
patients who are on a ventilator in
intensive care, do not respond to
antiviral treatment, and have had flu
symptoms for less than seven days.
In a separate study published in
the online version of international
medical journal Clinical Infectious
Diseases last week, the research team
reported that 90 per cent of the potential
blood plasma donors have a
high enough level of antibodies – 1:40
in technical terms – to protect themselves
from another swine flu infection
and to make hyperimmunoglobulin.
Of these, a fifth have a high
antibody level of 1:160 or above.
Hung, also a specialist in infectious
diseases, and HKU’s head of
microbiology, Professor Yuen Kwokyung,
were the study’s two main researchers.
“As some donors have a
very high level of antibodies, we used
their plasma directly on some patients
before the hyperimmunoglobulin
was made available,” Hung
said. “The making of the hyperimmunoglobulin
took about two
months so the plasma was used as an
emergency treatment.”
Hung said the project would recruit
more donors if there was a second
swine flu outbreak. “We thank
the donors very much. They have
spent several hours donating plasma
…extracting plasma is a much longer
process than just taking blood.”

Tatt fra pdf av avisen 1 Juli 2010.

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