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[NEW DELHI] Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) laced with the anti-rotavirus protein (ARP1) antibody offers an effective way to manage diarrhoea induced by rotavirus.
Clinical trials of the ORS plus ARP1 treatment on children in Bangladesh — the first on humans — show that the combination substantially reduces the severity of an infection that claims the lives of around 500,000 under-five children, mostly in developing countries, annually. Death is usually the result of diarrhoea-induced dehydration.
On 2 July, Gastroenterology published the results of the trials at the Dhaka Hospital involving 176 male infants aged 6—24 months and suffering from rotavirus infection. Researchers found that those   administered the combination reduced stool output by about one-fourth within 2—5 days and fared better than those placed on ORS alone as control.
ARP1, a rotavirus-specific antibody, was isolated in 2006. A paper published in the journal Vaccine in May 2006 indicated the antibody's capability to reduce the morbidity of rotavirus-induced diarrhoea.
Since then, scientists have been working on ways to administer ARP1 to patients.
A paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in August describes the use of genetically modified (GM) rice as a route for administration of ARP1 in rotavirus-infected mice. Scientists suggest that ARP1 may block or trigger a change in the outer protein layer of rotavirus particles, preventing attachment or entry of the virus into the cells of infected subjects.
While ARP1 was found to neutralise a wide range of viruses, scientists are yet to find out whether the   protein works against rotavirus mutants or whether resistance towards it can develop.
Experts working on rotavirus say that it would take 5—10 more years before treatment using ARP1 would be accessible to people.
"Much more work needs to be done before we can consider whether resistance is an issue," Shafiqul A. Sarker, lead author of the Dhaka Hospital study and faculty member at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Dhaka, tells SciDev.Net.
Yoshikazu Yuki, researcher at the Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, who participated in the study on administration of ARP1 to mice through GM rice, says it would take at least five more years before it would be marketable.
Link to abstract in Gastroenteritis
Link to article in Journal of Clinical Investigation

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