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Brazilian Research Centre May Develop Anti-Ebola Serum with US

Butanta Institute, a Brazilian research centre, is in discussion to develop a serum to combat the deadly Ebola virus with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Institute is an entity linked to the Sao Paulo state government that plans to develop the serum with the help of the NIH. The details of the proposed accord between the two organisations were reportedly discussed in a meeting between the Sao Paulo authorities and the director of the Butanta Institute, Jorge Kalil on Tuesday.

The aim of the Butanta Institute is to develop the serum using the process that is already being used to manufacture a serum against rabies in immunised horses. Instead of inducing the animals to produce antibodies against rabies by introducing a weakened form of the virus into their bodies, a non-pathogenic Ebola protein will be used in the procedure to develop the serum against the disease.

If the Brazilian government authorises the accord, the scientific centre will use biological material provided by the NIH to begin developing the serum, Kalil said. He calculated that the serum would be available for human use in about nine months.

In contrast to a vaccine, which immunises the patient by inducing the body to increase the production of its own antibodies to defend itself against a virus, a serum introduces antibodies produced by another person or animal into the body.

Ebola is a disease caused by the Ebola virus. Symptoms of the disease typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus. In the beginning, the symptoms may range from fever, sore throat, muscle pain, and headache. Then, vomiting and diarrhoea usually follow, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. Some of those affected may also begin to bleed both internally and externally.

He said that they already have a lot of experience in producing a serum against the rabies virus, which he said is very probable that they’ll get a serum to neutralise Ebola, similar to the one they (have been) producing against rabies. "We’re in contact with the NIH and we’re travelling to the US to present the idea and sign the corresponding intellectual property and confidentiality contracts. The cooperation will begin very soon," he added.

(With inputs from IANS)

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