Health Care

Antibody protects fetus from Zika virus, mouse study shows

Antibody protects fetus from Zika virus, mouse study shows

Vaccines work by stimulating the body to generate these antibodies before an infection, but researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Washington University School of Medicine also wanted to see if antibodies could help stop the spread of infection after the fact.

Paris: An antibody produced by the human body shielded unborn mice against Zika, a study said on Monday, raising hopes for thwarting the virus known to cause brain damage in human foetuses.

The Crowe and Diamond laboratories have collaborated recently on several projects including the generation of protective human monoclonal antibodies against Dengue, West Nile, Chikungunya and now Zika viruses.

The antibody still needs to be tested in humans (which could be months away), but if it's shown to work, it could be used as a treatment, an albeit expensive one, to protect pregnant women exposed to or diagnosed with Zika. But when pregnant mice were treated with the ZIKV-117 antibody, it not only reduced the infection in the mother mouse, but it also protected the fetus from infection.

As a treatment, antibodies for Zika could be given to pregnant women as infusions to offer temporary protection for the fetus. When compared to a control group which did not receive treatment, placentas from the experimental group appeared normal and healthy. "The anti-Zika antibodies are able to keep the fetus safe from harm by blocking the virus from crossing the placenta". It can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, causing microephaly, or an abnormally small head.

The conclusion came after a significant increase in reports of microcephaly following Zika virus outbreaks in French Polynesia in 2014 and Brazil in 2015.

In most people it is benign with mild or no symptoms.

A Zika vaccine is likely to be the cheapest and simplest method of preventing Zika-related birth defects.

Tatiane do Nascimento holds her son Willamis Silva who was born with microcephaly as a result of his mother's Zika

With cases reported as close to home as Florida, many people have been wondering about the effects on our pets, and whether there's any risk of the virus being transmitted between pet parents and their furry companions.

Additionally, when the researchers gave ZIKV-177 to male mice infected with a lethal strain of Zika, they found it reduced levels of the virus, even when administered 5 days after initial infection.

During the past 15 years, Crowe and his colleagues have developed a high-efficiency method for isolating human monoclonal antibodies that has enabled to them identify neutralizing antibodies against a wide range of viral infections, from Ebola to HIV.

They are now making plans to test the antibody treatment in monkeys.

Crowe is continuing the process of developing the antibody as a potential therapeutic, ramping up production and laying the groundwork for human studies.

Next, Dr. Diamond and team set out to investigate whether ZIKV-177 might be effective against Zika virus in animal models.

Of course, mice aren't people so it's not exactly like we have a cure for Zika about the hit the shelves next week. "We showed that the antibody can prevent disease, and now we want to know whether it can clear persistent infection from those parts of the body".

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