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Study Reveals How Antibody Cocktail Neutralizes Lassa Virus

New details about how an investigational antibody cocktail offers protection against Lassa virus infection are reported in Science Translational Medicine this week, providing a therapeutic strategy for combating the pathogen. The virus causes hemorrhagic Lassa fever, a serious and often fatal condition that affects hundreds of thousands of people, primarily in West Africa, each year. In previous studies, scientists from the La Jolla Institute for Immunology and collaborators identified three neutralizing antibodies — obtained from patients who had survived multiple Lassa virus infections — that target the Lassa virus glycoprotein complex, which the virus uses to enter host cells. When tested in non-human primates, the antibody combo provided complete protection against the virus. Seeking to better understand how these antibodies work, the researchers conducted a series of experiments that reveal the mechanisms by which the antibodies neutralize Lassa virus and offer guidelines for designing treatments for Lassa fever and related infectious diseases.