Zika virus researchers are discovering effective Zita antibodies
There is no vaccine against the dangerous Zika virus, which is suspected of causing pediatric skull malformations. But that could possibly change soon. Researchers have now discovered effective antibodies against the pathogen.
Millions of people are infected with Zika
Although researchers had recently warned against a possible Zika virus epidemic around the Mediterranean, but the pathogen is mainly distributed in countries of South and Central America. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, the pathogen is active in 60 countries and territories, most of them on the American double continent. In Brazil alone, around one and a half million people are infected with the virus, which is responsible, among other things, for thousands of cases of microcephaly in babies. The children are born with an unusually small head, which can lead to brain malformations. So far, there is no clear evidence that the virus is the trigger for it. According to recent findings, however, the pathogen can also be a threat to adults, as researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. Meanwhile, there are first hopes for a vaccine against the dangerous Zika virus.
Researchers discover effective antibodies
European researchers have reported finding effective antibodies in the search for a Zika virus vaccine. As the scientists report in the journal "Nature", the antibodies in human cell cultures would have "neutralized" the virus as well as the related dengue virus. This could lead to the "development of a universal vaccine" against both viruses, but there is still a long way to go. According to the information, the antibodies are from people whose immune system had developed such proteins after a dengue infection. According to news agency AFP, study co-author Felix Rey of the French Pasteur Institute said: "We never thought that the dengue virus and the Zika virus were so similar that the antibodies produced against the dengue virus were also the Zika Can effectively neutralize virus ".
Researchers warn against exaggerated hopes
According to researcher Juthathip Mongkolsapaya of Imperial College London, "very powerful antibodies" were discovered for the first time against Zika. However, Rey warned against over-optimistic hopes for the rapid development of a vaccine: "Much needs to be done, including clinical trials. It may take some time. "However, the scientists also made a disturbing discovery: While the human body evolves two dengue antibodies that are also effective against Zika, most other proteins that are produced seem to promote proliferation of Zika viruses. Researcher Gavin Screaton of Imperial College London said earlier dengue disease may also increase the risk of Zika infection. "This could explain why the current (Zika) outbreak is so fierce and why he hit regions where there is dengue." The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Immunology. Rey, who was involved in both papers, said, "Both studies complement each other." He explained, "They show that it is very important that the future vaccine uses the right antibodies and targets the Achilles heel of the virus." (Ad)