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Anti-Serum to Virus?

Giovanni Maga maga at vetbio.unizh.ch
Mon Mar 27 04:12:29 EST 1995

In article <3knlk4$bta at news.acns.nwu.edu>, markb at unseen2.acns.nwu.edu (Mark
Brodsky) wrote:

> I just saw Outbreak. Forgetting all the Hollywood hyperbole (this was
> after all an entertainment not an educational movie) I was curious
> about the use of an anti-serum to the virus. I had not heard of such a
> thing before. Is it possible to make an anti-serum to a virus?
> --
> "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not
> sure  you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
> Mark E. Brodsky					E-mail: mark-brodsky at nwu.edu
> Northwestern University                         or  markb at casbah.acns.nwu.edu
> Evanston, Il.

Such practice has been well established for bacterial infections, in which
sera from immunized animals are given to patients in order to increase
their set of Abs against the bacterial pathogen. The same can be applied to
viruses. Anyway, this immuno-adiuvance is only short-term, i.e. is related
to the half-life of the injected Abs in the serum of the patient, since
they do not trigger an autonomous immune response. This is the reason way
vaccination is preferred to serotherapy (wherever an immunogenic antigen is
available to be injected in the patient). It must be recalled, anyway, that
cell-mediated response is sometimes more critical for viral infection than
umoral one (Abs production), thus an effective immunotherapy against a
viral infection would require that a cell-mediated response is triggered
(this is probably the case of HIV, where even if a good *constant* antigen
could be found, the vaccination could be not enough to defeat completely
the virus, but it is just an opinion). The source of the antiserum is also
important in order not to have anti-antiserum immune response. In general,
the use of antisera is considered riskious, due to the possibility of
contamination with other unknown or undetected viruses.
maga at vetbio.unizh.ch

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