Professor Peter Gray and his team at the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology are set to begin world-first human trials to fight the deadly Hendra virus.
The Hendra virus was discovered in 1994 when it caused the deaths of thirteen horses in Queensland. It is transferable and deadly to humans, having caused four deaths in the seven cases that have occurred since its discovery.
Professor Gray and his team have manufactured an antibody designed to mimic naturally produced antibodies, which needs to be administered shortly after exposure to the Hendra virus. This was done with the help of collaborators at the National Cancer Institute and labs in the US, which were able to create the antibody from a synthetic form of the Hendra virus. The UQ team has since figured out a way to produce more of the antibody without having to reproduce any of the Hendra virus itself.