The battle against Zika may have some new firepower. A single dose of a human antibody called ZIKV-117 can shield mouse fetuses from the virus’s damaging effects, researchers report online November 7 in Nature.
In humans, Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to a suite of birth defects including a condition known as microcephaly, which leaves babies with shrunken heads and brains (SN: 4/2/16, p. 26). It’s not yet clear whether a new treatment based on the antibody would work in humans (or even in monkeys). But if it does, ZIKV-117 could potentially offer pregnant women a way to defend themselves — and their babies — from a virus that tore through Brazil and has now encroached upon the United States.
G. Sapparapu et al. Neutralizing human antibodies prevent Zika virus replication and fetal disease in mice. Nature. Published online November 7, 2016. doi: 10.1038/nature20564.
M. Rosen. This week in Zika: Vaginal vulnerability, disease double trouble and more. Science News Online, November 17, 2016.
T.H. Saey. Zika disrupts cellular processes to impair brain development. Science News. Vol. 190, November 12, 2016, p. 13.