Antibody protects against Zika virus in tests in mice

TEM of Zika virus

ZIKA BLOCKER  A new therapy tested in mice curtails the effects of Zika virus (shown red in this transmission electron microscope image).

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The battle against Zika may have some new firepower. A single dose of a human antibody called ZIKV-117 can protect mice from death after Zika infection — and shield mouse fetuses from the virus’s damaging effects, researchers report 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. 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.

Meghan Rosen headhsot

Meghan Rosen is a staff writer who reports on the life sciences for Science News. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology with an emphasis in biotechnology from the University of California, Davis, and later graduated from the science communication program at UC Santa Cruz.

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