Effort extended in fight against Lassa virus

A major extension in the collaborative effort between Corgenix Medical Corporation and Tulane University has been announced to combat viral hemorrhagic fever.

Tulane University has been awarded a five-year contract totaling $15,224,927 by the National Institutes of Health for the expanded study of Lassa virus, which is classified as a Bio Safety Level 4 agent and is included on the NIAID Category A select agents list of potential bio-terrorism threats.

"This study will result in a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of antibody detection and antibody mediated neutralization of Lassa virus," James Robinson, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the Tulane University School of Medicine and principle investigator of the program, said. "This research has significant implications for the next generation of antibody based therapeutics against viral hemorrhagic fevers."

The Scripps Research Institute, the University of California at San Diego, Boston University, the Broad Institute, Harvard University, Autoimmune Technologies, LLC, Vybion, Inc., and various partners in West Africa will collaborate on the project with Cogenix and Tulane University.

"We have assembled a very strong and diverse group of institutions to collaborate on this project," Dr. Robinson said. "Our goal is to elucidate the role of humoral immunity in protection or pathogenesis of Lassa fever. We will derive a diverse set of monoclonal antibodies from patients infected with Lassa virus, which causes Lassa fever. These human antibodies will be evaluated for their ability to protect from the severe consequences of the disease, and could play a role in treatment or prevention of this illness in areas of West Africa where Lassa fever is common."

Lassa fever carries a high fatality rate and is easily spread by human-to-human contact. In addition, it carries the potential for aerosol release.

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