American and Australian advances in the fight against Hendra virus

Professor Christopher Broder, Uniformed Services
University,Maryland, USA with Dr Peter Reid

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the world’s largest professional association of equine veterinarians with some 10,000 members worldwide, has recognised Brisbane equine veterinarian and AVA member, Peter Reid.

Dr Reid was acknowledged for his efforts towards gaining approval for the funding of horse vaccine trials at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), at the AAEP 56th Annual Convention in Baltimore last year.

Here he reports on his recent visits to medical research institutions in New York, Bethesda, Maryland, and Los Angeles, and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Queensland:

“The visits were important to gain understanding of the significance of developments and directions for Hendra research, and to provide a personal perspective to these researchers of the impact this disease is having on veterinarians and horse industry stakeholders in Australia.

The interaction provided a frank two-way exchange of new information and perspectives, and extremely valuable networks have been created,” explained Dr Reid.

“Professors Moscona and Porotto from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York have recently published work (as reported previously in the AVJ)1 on cholesterol-tagged peptides which can cross the blood brain barrier and have demonstrated effectiveness in preventing Nipah virus infection in small animal trials.

“In Los Angeles the team led by Professor Benhur Lee from the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has identified the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib which has demonstrated in vitro effectiveness in preventing Nipah viral assembly and budding during viral replication.

“This drug is USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma in humans and an oral form is expected to soon be available. Newer proteasome inhibitors are also under investigation and small animal trials are planned.

“Professor Chris Broder from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Uniformed Services University (USU), and his team, in conjunction with scientists at AAHL have been responsible for identifying and developing the Hendra soluble G glycoprotein as a horse vaccine candidate, and a human monoclonal antibody (mAb) as a prophylactic or postexposure therapeutic.

“I was excited to hear about the progress with the soluble G horse vaccine trials currently being conducted at AAHL and significant steps are being made towards making horse vaccine a commercial reality,” explained Dr Reid.

“Dr Trent Munro’s team at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland has made excellent progress for scaled up production of a reserve stock of monoclonal antibody. Future therapies may consist of a combination of this mAb plus other therapies under investigation in the USA.

“The evaluation of the soluble G and canarypox-vectored recombinant as potential horse vaccine candidates at AAHL is absolutely critical because the possibility of preventing infection in horses by immunisation will be better than trying to cure human infection from a horse to human transmission. However, in the unfortunate circumstance that someone does become exposed or infected by whatever means, then we need to have the best treatment options available based on this cutting edge research,” said Dr Reid.

Peter Reid
Brisbane

1. O’Shaughnessy J. Insights into Hendra infection. Aust Vet J 2010;88(12):N13.

This article appears in the January/February 2011 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal.

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