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American and Turkish Scientists Create 1st Libraries of Avian Flu Antibodies

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The first libraries of avian influenza antibodies have been created by American and Turkish researchers, who say the achievement could lead to the development of treatments for people infected with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus.

The libraries include more than 300 antibodies that work against H5N1. The samples were collected from survivors of bird flu outbreaks that occurred in Turkey in 2005 and 2006, CTV News reported.

To date, the scientists have found that three of the antibodies are effective against both the H1 (common flu) and H5 (avian) subtypes.

"Three global influenza pandemics have occurred within the past 100 years, each with devastating consequences," said Richard A. Lerner, president of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. "Our study holds out the hope that a new outbreak could potentially be stopped at an early stage, and that effective treatment could be available to those infected."

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Companion birds in captivity and parrots are highly unlikely to contract the virus, and there has been no report of a companion bird with avian influenza since 2003. Pigeons do not contract or spread the virus. 84% of affected bird populations are composed of chicken and farm birds, while the 15% is madeup of wild birds according to capture-and-release operations in the 2000s, during the SARs pandemic. The first deadly Canadian case was confirmed on January 3, 2014.

May 24, 2014 - 8:55am
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