Researchers Develop New Treatment For Rabies

Researchers Develop New Treatment For Rabies
Person with rabies, 1959. (Credit: Wikipedia)
Successfully treating rabies can be a race against the clock. Those who suffer a bite from a rabid animal have a brief window of time to seek medical help before the virus takes root in the central nervous system, at which point the disease is almost invariably fatal. Now, researchers have successfully tested a new treatment on mice that cures the disease even after the virus has spread to the brain. They published their findings in Journal of Virology.
In their mouse experiments, the animals were exposed to a strain of the rabies virus that generally reaches the brain of infected mice within three days. By day six, mice begin to exhibit the telltale physical symptoms that indicate the infection has become fatal. However, 50 percent of mice treated with the new vaccine were saved, even after the onset of physical symptoms on day six.
This is the most effective treatment we have seen reported in the scientific literature.If these results can translate to humans, the researchers may have found one of the first useful treatments for advanced rabies infection.
The researchers developed their vaccine by inserting a protein from the rabies virus into another virus known as parainfluenza virus 5, or PIV5, which is thought to contribute to upper respiratory infections in dogs but is completely harmless to humans. PIV5 acts as a delivery vehicle that carries the rabies protein to the immune system so it may create the antibodies necessary to fight off the virus.
Apart from being very effective in saving the infected mice, the researchers emphasized that their vaccine is much safer when compared to the best current treatment in mice, which uses a weakened version of the rabies virus.
The researchers will continue to perfect their vaccine's design and hope to move into more advanced animal trials soon.
"There is an urgent need in many parts of the world for a better rabies treatment, and we think this technology may serve as an excellent platform. Ultimately, we just want to try to save more lives", the researchers concluded.
Based on materials originally posted by University of Georgia.