Researchers from Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Children's Hospital Boston discovered that the antibody neutralized SARS infection in a laboratory setting by blocking the virus from entering cultured cells. The experiments are continuing in animal models of SARS, and the researchers are discussing future trials in humans. The findings will be posted the week of Feb. 2 on the PNAS Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber, and colleagues isolated the monoclonal antibody and demonstrated its effectiveness within six months after the SARS virus was discovered. "This is really a proof of principle for responding to emerging infectious diseases," says Marasco, the paper's senior author. "If the international community works together, it can make a serious dent in the time it takes to develop protective treatments against these threats."
The paper's first author is Jianhua Sui, MD, PhD, a research fellow at Dana-Farber.
SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), a highly contagious illness that often progresses to pneumonia and is sometimes fatal, was first reported in Asia in February 2003. Over the next several months it spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia and infected nearly 8,100 people (only a few in the United States) before it was contained. Early this year, Chinese authorities confirmed three new cases in that country, but there has been no sign of a renewed outbreak.