Scientists say they may have found a way to protect babies in the womb from the harmful effects of Zika.
So far the US team has only had success in mice with its antibody treatment, but it says it might eventually lead to a therapy for women who catch Zika in pregnancy.
The Zika virus can severely damage a newborn’s brain.
The antibody therapy is made using blood cells from people who have recently had and fought off Zika.
In mice, the treatment significantly reduced the amount of Zika virus that circulated in the mother’s blood and crossed the placenta into the baby
Nature – Neutralizing human antibodies prevent Zika virus replication and fetal disease in mice
Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging mosquito-transmitted flavivirus that can cause severe disease, including congenital birth defects during pregnancy1. To develop candidate therapeutic agents against ZIKV, we isolated a panel of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from subjects with prior ZIKV infection. A subset of mAbs recognized diverse epitopes on the envelope (E) protein and exhibited potently neutralizing activity. One of the most inhibitory mAbs, ZIKV-117, broadly neutralized infection of ZIKV strains corresponding to African, Asian, and American lineages. Epitope mapping studies revealed that ZIKV-117 recognized a unique quaternary epitope on the E protein dimer–dimer interface. We evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of ZIKV-117 in pregnant and non-pregnant mice. mAb treatment markedly reduced tissue pathology, placental and fetal infection, and mortality in mice. Thus, neutralizing human mAbs can protect against maternal–fetal transmission, infection and disease, and reveal important determinants for structure-based rational vaccine design efforts.
SOURCES- Nature, BBC News
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