Researchers develop experimental drug to protect infants from whooping cough before vaccination

An experimental drug may protect newborns from pertussis — commonly referred to as whooping cough — before they are old enough to be vaccinated for the disease, according to a study presented Oct. 5 at ID Week 2017 in San Diego.

The drug, Hu1B7, is a monoclonal antibody capable of neutralizing the pertussis microbial toxin. To assess the drug's efficacy, researchers administered Hu1B7 to seven neonatal baboons two days post-birth. Researchers then infected these baboons — along with six baby baboons not administered the drug — with the pertussis bacteria five weeks post-birth.

The treatment group did not display symptoms of whooping cough and their white blood cell counts remained normal. Most of the controls displayed symptoms of the illness, and three had to be euthanized.

While vaccinating mothers against pertussis can help protect newborns from illness, not all mothers will get the vaccine. The study's authors suggest this treatment could be developed to provide infants four months of protection from the illness prior to vaccination. 

More articles on infection control: 
Dentist-prescribed antibiotics linked to rising C. diff rates 
Texas sees 2nd locally acquired case of Zika this year 
Viewpoint: Pressure to reduce readmissions can hinder care quality, patient safety

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