When Kerala State in India began reporting its first-ever cases of Nipah virus in May 2018, they knew the rare, brain-damaging virus that makes its home in fruit bats had struck the country twice before.
Ultimately, the virus killed 17 of the 18 people who became infected in that outbreak.
Kerala also understood that there was an experimental therapy—the only known treatment for the infection—that had been used for compassionate use several years earlier to save an Australian mother and her 12-year-old daughter who had become infected with the Hendra virus, which is closely related to Nipah virus.
HJF Quickly Assists
Amid the Indian outbreak, HJF facilitated the transfer of the experimental therapy from Queensland, Australia to Kerala. The government of Queensland quickly sent multiple doses of the therapy to India for compassionate use there during the summer spate of infections.
In 2010, Australian officials had petitioned the Uniformed Services University (USU), which worked with HJF’s technology transfer team, to deliver the antibody that was administered to the mother and daughter.
We worked with USU, the National Institutes of Health and Australian authorities to transfer the antibody to Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital. The team then helped negotiate an agreement for the transfer of the monoclonal antibody cell line to Queensland Health to produce and stockpile the therapy for future compassionate use.
Dr. Christopher Broder of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at USU, in collaboration with Dr. Dimiter Dimitrov, formerly of the National Institutes of Health and now a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, developed the antibody.