Researchers seek to prove safety of Hendra virus treatment

QUEENSLAND researchers are about to take a major step towards proving the safety of the only known effective treatment for preventing Hendra virus once a person has been exposed.

The State Government has allocated $1.2 million towards funding a clinical trial of a human antibody capable of neutralising Hendra virus.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said today the trial was a collaboration between groups in Queensland, NSW and the United States.

"This world-first trial will test the monoclonal antibody in a small group of people for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range and identify any side effects," he said.

"There are many organisations involved in Hendra virus research and treatment as it is a problem that knows no borders.

"This is a collaboration to develop a new medicine that could save lives in the event of a Hendra virus incident in Australia."

Mr Springborg was joined by New South Wales Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson who said the research was a significant step forward in combating a deadly virus.

"This work is globally significant and, along with advancements in horse vaccine development, is critical in our future control strategies," she said.

"The NSW Government is pleased to be able to team up with our Queensland and Commonwealth counterparts to help develop scientific solutions to tackle Hendra virus, which has caused so much concern to our communities over many years.

"This project, combined with others funded through the Hendra Virus Taskforce, brings together leading researchers from NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the USA to tackle this deadly virus."