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New Method to Test for Bird Flu Virus in Prospect

by 5m Editor
17 March 2009, at 7:29am

US - ATCC (American Type Culture Collection) researchers have developed a panel of novel monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against avian influenza viruses. These antibodies could lead to a rapid diagnostic test for the infection, ATCC announced yesterday.

The organization has filed a patent covering the development of these novel antibodies.

These monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specifically target the hemagglutinin molecule of three avian influenza A subtypes. Historically, these target viruses have caused lethal outbreaks in poultry. If they acquire the ability to be transmitted efficiently from human to human, they could potentially cause a worldwide pandemic.

“Given the potential for H5, H7 and H9 avian influenza to jump species and cause a public health crisis, we focused our efforts on developing reagents to detect avian influenza strains which have the potential to cause pandemic disease in humans,” explained Cohava Gelber, PhD/MBA, ATCC Chief Science and Technology Officer.

The antibody-based diagnostic test that is being developed by ATCC is designed to provide information about the virus subtype, a capability that is not currently found in existing rapid influenza diagnostics. Using a nasal swab, healthcare practitioners could quickly distinguish between a strain of seasonal influenza that is already circulating in the human population and an emerging strain of bird flu, to which humans have no pre-existing immunity.

Although the ATCC research was targeted at a rapid diagnostic test for human infections, it may also be useful for detecting the virus in domestic poultry and wild aquatic birds, the natural reservoirs for influenza viruses.

“Our research represents a major step toward developing a surveillance tool that the public health community can use to protect the population from avian flu and from a possible flu pandemic,” said John Simms, PhD, ATCC Product Development Scientist and antibody project leader.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.