zika virus

A new study discusses potential treatment and prevention methods to Zika virus (ZIKV), which can cause severe birth defects in pregnancy. The researchers found that an antibody, ZIKV-117, has the potential to treat at-risk pregnant women who have the virus.


Zika virus (ZIKV) is a virus which is mainly spread through infected mosquitos. Similar to other viruses transmitted through mosquito bites, the common symptoms for Zika virus are mild, and can include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. However, Zika virus can also have more severe effects, such as birth defects, as it can be passed on from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

Despite the fact that ZIKV can cause various diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, and Microcephaly, there are no specific vaccines or treatments available to treat or prevent ZIKV. Thus, a new study found in the Nature journal, aimed to explore the effects of various antibodies which can potentially be used or altered to develop candidate therapeutic agents to fight against ZIKV. The researchers put together a panel of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), from individuals who previously were infected with different strains of ZIKV from various countries around the world. Eight individuals in the U.S who had a recent or prior ZIKV were involved: 2 subjects were infected with an African lineage strain during a stay in Senegal, and the other 6 were infected during a current outbreak of an Asian lineage strain in Mexico, and Brazil. The mAbs collected were then tested on pregnant and non-pregnant mice, to assess their inhibitory activity against the strain.

The results presented a subset of neutralizing mAbs that were able to recognize many antigen molecules that the antibodies can attach themselves to, which exhibited a range of potently inhibitory activity. Of those, it was found that the monoclonal antibody ZIKV-117 was the most inhibitory, and was recognized for reducing tissue pathology, placental and fetal infection and mortality in mice. Although it is unclear as to the extent that mice observations can be translated to humans, it was shown that neutralizing human mAbs have the ability to protect against maternal-fetal transmission, infection, and disease, as well as contribute to future vaccine design efforts.


By: Sana Issa, HBSc

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