According to a new study, no vaccine currently exists for West Nile Virus, but a new therapeutic made from tobacco plants has been shown to arrest the infection.
Elderly individuals and those with depressed immunity are particularly vulnerable to West Nile, a mosquito-borne illness that can cause a potentially lethal inflammation of the brain.
The study, conducted by Arizona State University scientists, is the first to demonstrate a plant-derived treatment to successfully combat West Nile virus after exposure and infection.
"The goal of this research was twofold. First, we wanted to show proof-of- concept, demonstrating that plant-made antibodies can work as effective post-exposure therapeutics," said Arizona State University scientist Qiang Chen.
"Secondly, we've sought to develop a therapeutic which can be made inexpensively so that the health care systems in developing countries can afford it," Chen added.
The research appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (advanced online edition).