West Nile virus vaccine may be ready by the end of the year

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A Dutch biotechnology manufacturer says it has identified a human antibody which has proven effective against West Nile virus in animal studies.

The firm Crucell say that their study results have shown that the fully human monoclonal antibody, derived from patients who survived West Nile infection, effectively neutralized the virus in cell culture and fully protected mice from the lethal infection.

Significant progress has also been reported by Crucell in developing vaccines against Ebola and SARS.

The West Nile virus vaccine development program will begin clinical trials at the end of this year.

West Nile virus which is carried by mosquitos, first appeared in New York in 1999, and has since spread throughout the United States.

In 2004, there were 2,470 recorded cases of the disease and 88 fatalities caused by a form of encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

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