Army uses ducks and DNA vax to make antivirals

The Andres virus is a hantavirus that causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in South America. More than a third of people infected will die, and there are no vaccines or treatments. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and its collaborators have created a route to producing an antibody-based treatment using a DNA vaccine and duck eggs, and it's the first time that this technique has been used to produce an antiviral that can protect against hantavirus disease. The team created a DNA vaccine against Andes virus and then vaccinated ducks, and was able to purify an antibody from the duck's eggs. Hamsters have a hantavirus infection that is similar to HPS, and treatment with the antibody stopped the animals from developing the disease, even after exposure to the virus. "This … has the potential to be used in future outbreak situations," said Jay W. Hooper of USAMRIID. "It also could be used to treat health care workers and others who have close contact with HPS patients." Press release | Abstract