New research may accelerate development of Zika vaccines

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New research may accelerate development of Zika vaccines

Postby whbio » May 08 2017 12:37 pm

Researchers, including those from The Rockefeller University, California Institute of Technology, and Yale School of Public Health in the USA, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz/MS and Universidade Federal da Bahia in Brazil, and National Institute of Respiratory Diseases in Mexico, have discovered an antibody that may be used to develop Zika vaccines and therapeutics.

In most cases, Zika virus (ZIKV) infection only causes mild symptoms like fever, rash, and arthralgia. These generally can be resolved rapidly. But infection during pregnancy may have dangerous consequences. Newborns may have severe neurodevelopmental  defects, which are collectively referred to as congenital Zika syndrome.

ZIKV, dengue virus (DENV), yellow fever virus (YFV) and several other deadly viruses are members of the Flavivirus genus. These viruses have a highly conserved envelope protein, E, the ectodomain of which contains three domain, EDI, EDII, EDIII. Antibodies against the EDIII are the most potent. Since the E protein is highly conserved, antibodies produced in response to one flavivirus may also recognize other flaviviruses. There is evidence that cross reactivity may result in cross-protection. In addition, some studies have shown that human monoclonal antibodies against DENV may cross-neutralize ZIKV and vice versa. But cross-reacting antibodies that fail to neutralize the virus may enhance rather than inhibit subsequent flavivirus infections, a phenomenon known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). So it is important to induce a strong antibody response in vaccine development.

For the current study, the researchers described the features of the neutralizing antibody responses in people who had high serum ZIKV neutralizing activity and their relationship to previous flavivirus exposure. They found that certain people had the same species of nearly identical antibodies. One antibody, named Z004, protected mice from severe Zika infection. Further investigation showed how the antibody pinches a ridge on the virus when it binds to it. The researchers assumed that a small fragment containing this ridge may help to develop ZIKA vaccines. The study appears in the journal Cell. (Cusabio offers various antibodies.
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