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Cells from patients who have recovered from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) can be used to make antibodies — proteins that help fight infections — against the SARS virus. These could be given as an immune system-boosting treatment to patients who are still fighting the disease, according to research published in Nature Medicine

Researchers used cells from recovered SARS patients and used them as 'factories' for producing antibodies against the SARS virus. When tested in mice infected with SARS, the antibodies prevented the virus from replicating.

This phenomenon is known as 'passive immunity'. Instead of making a patient's own immune response stronger, as would happen with a vaccine, immunity is 'boosted' with supplementary antibodies from an external source. The scientists say their approach could provide a faster means of immunising patients than vaccines, and could also be available on the market sooner. They suggest that their technique for producing antibodies could be used to treat all infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Link to the full BBC Online news story

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