Recent studies on mice have revealed an efficient Zika antibody which could act as a protection for fetuses and could mark a step forward in the search for a vaccine.
The Zika antibody breakthrough came from a team of Vanderbilt University and Washington university School of Medicine scientists who published their findings in the Nature online edition on November 7.
According to Washington University School of Medicine professor and MD, MPH Michael Diamond, one of the study’s lead authors, this is the first research that managed to detect an antibody capable of protecting the unborn fetus from contracting the disease.
The team based their research and study on the blood samples of three infected but recovered Zika patients. In their search for an antibody, they isolated the blood’s immune B cells and generated a number of 29 antibodies from the respective cells.
As the researchers started testing the 29 Zika antibodies, they detected one capable of neutralizing all the existing five virus strains, from the American to the African lineage.
The Zika antibody, which was named ZIKV-117, was then tested in a series of lab tests on mice so as to determine its effects.
The first leg of the studies saw its effects on adult, male infected mice. The numbers of such mice which received a single dose of the ZIVK-117 antibody were shown to have higher chances of survival and recovery.
The Zika antibody effectiveness was tested even in late administration cases, with the mice surviving even after a 5-day delay following the virus infection.
As even the most dire conditions were mimicked, with the mice receiving a highly pathogenic Zika virus strain, the antibody succeeded in protecting the mice.
The next series of tests was meant to test the ZIKV-117 effectiveness as a pregnancy protection. The Zika antibody was administered to a number of pregnant female mice a day before or after they were infected with the virus.
Results showed that most of the Zika antibody injected mice exhibited considerably lower virus levels in both the carrying females and in their fetuses.
A comparison between the placentas of the treated and non-treated mice revealed that the Zika antibody acted as a protection to the fetus as It blocked the virus’s crossing the placenta.
According to study co-author and Washington University associate obstetrics and gynecology professor, Indira Mysorekar, the mice did not exhibit a thinning of the placenta, fetal blood vessel damage, or growth restrictions in the mice fetuses.
As several other studies are targeting a possible Zika virus vaccine, most scientists warn against the possible adverse reaction of such a treatment as they fear a possible ADE or antibody-dependent enhancement.
In order to prevent such consequences, the current study scientists modified their Zika antibody so that it would not lead to an ADE. The modified ZIKV-117 also showed the same positive results and protection against the virus.
Following the initial favorable results, the current team has split into two separate groups that will work on developing the Zika antibody so as to determine a possible vaccine and also a potential cure.
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