October 5, 2009

Rabies antibody is tested in India

The University of Massachusetts Medical School says it's taking part in testing a human monoclonal antibody developed to neutralize the rabies virus.

The clinical trial being conducted in Mumbai, India, is sponsored by the Serum Institute of India, which is working with the university's Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories that is manufacturing the new antibody.

India is an appropriate location to do this study because of the serious problem of rabies that exists in the country, said Dr. Donna Ambrosino, executive director of MassBiologics. We look forward to seeing the results from this trial, and to advancing this potentially life-saving treatment.

The rabies virus can cause acute encephalitis that is fatal once symptoms appear. However by using a rabies vaccine and human rabies immune globulin soon after exposure, patients are protected from the fatal disease. Unfortunately rabies immune globulin is expensive and is often not available in developing countries.

To address the problem, MassBiologics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed an antibody to use as a substitute.

Too often physicians in India and other developing countries only have the rabies vaccine to offer, and that alone isn't always enough to prevent infection, said Dr. Deborah Molrine, deputy director of clinical and regulatory affairs at MassBiologics. If this new antibody proves effective in people, it will have a tremendous impact on saving lives.