Human antibodies made in genetically engineered cows have proved safe in an early stage clinical trial…and could be developed into a treatment for the fatal viral disease, MERS.
MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is a SARS-like viral infection first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012 that has caused deadly outbreaks in the Middle East as well as sporadic cases around the world.
Despite more than five years of waves of infection, no effective treatment or vaccine has been developed against MERS.
In research published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal…scientists found that human antibodies called SAB-301 generated in so-called transchromosomic cattle — animals with human DNA incorporated into their genome — were safe in healthy volunteers.
The antibodies also persisted for more time than the MERS virus typically remains in the body, the study found, with antibodies still detected in bloodstream after 90 days.
This points a way ahead for the antibodies — which offer immunity against an invading infection — to be tested in further trials in people infected with MERS, the researchers said.
Transchromosomic cattle have human DNA that codes for human antibodies incorporated into their genome. To make SAB-301, they were injected with a part of the MERS virus, stimulating their immune systems to produce antibodies against it.
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