"West Nile virus has emerged as a problem in the United States again this year, and public health officials are particularly concerned because the disease appears to be spreading more quickly and more widely than last year," comments Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID director. "NIAID is excited to be supporting this clinical trial for a specific therapeutic intervention against WNV.
"Currently, clinicians can provide only supportive care for patients infected with WNV," notes Dr. Fauci. "We hope that the results from this study will ultimately give physicians and their patients a useful treatment option."
The new study will assess whether WNV-infected individuals given antibodies to the virus--one of the immune system's arsenal of disease-fighting weapons--are better able to fend off the severe symptoms of WNV, such as encephalitis, that contribute to the deaths of many individuals who become infected.
Omrix, an Israeli company partnering with NIAID on this study, has an immunoglobulin product that contains antibodies to WNV. Omrix developed this immunoglobulin treatment from the plasma of Israeli donors who have high levels of antibodies to WNV. WNV has been endemic in Israel for decades, and many Israelis who give blood have antibodies to WNV. By giving patients the immunoglobulin product (called Omr-IgG-am) containing the WNV antibodies, researchers hope to help fight the virus in the brain of infected individuals who have developed WNV encephalitis--an inflammation of the brain--or who are at risk for developing this complication.
"This study w
Contact: NIAID Office of Communications and Public Liaison
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases