SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is a highly contagious and occasionally fatal illness that often progresses to pneumonia. The virus killed nearly 800 people in a global outbreak last year.
Researchers now say that they've discovered a human antibody that blocks infection caused by the SARS virus.
Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and elsewhere discovered an antibody -- called the 80R antibody -- that neutralizes the SARS infection by blocking the virus from entering certain cells. An antibody is a special blood protein that defends against bacteria, viruses, and other substances that enter the body. Researchers say the 80R antibody potently blocked live SARS viruses from entering cultured human cells. Researchers say the 80R antibody could be tested in humans and may lead to the development of a drug to prevent or treat SARS.
Although there is not a current SARS crisis, researchers say the virus is still a threat. There are currently no preventive vaccines or effective treatments for patients with SARS. Researchers say " If the international community works together, it can make a serious dent in the time it takes to develop protective treatments against these threats."