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Scientists Rush to Develop Zika Vaccine

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Monday, 01 Aug 2016 12:29 PM

Protection against a single strain of Zika virus should be enough to fight against the virus, which could aid in the rush to develop a vaccine, researchers say.

When individuals are infected with Zika virus, their immune systems produce neutralizing antibodies to fight the infection. These antibodies may offer immunity against future infections by strains of the same Zika virus lineage.

Zika virus strains are grouped into two distinct genetic lineages: African and Asian. The Zika virus strain circulating in the current outbreak affecting Central and South America and the Caribbean is of the Asian lineage.

Until now, it was unclear whether the antibodies could also protect against infection with strains of the other Zika virus lineage. Results from laboratory experiments and tests in mice now show this may be possible, according to a study conducted by investigators from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

This makes Zika different than the closely-related Dengue virus, which is also spread by infected mosquitos. That virus has four serotypes, which is why people can be infected with dengue as many as four times, once with each serotype.

The findings are important to the ongoing effort to rapidly develop a preventive Zika vaccine, according to the researchers. Because there is only one Zika virus serotype, antibodies elicited by any Zika virus strain in a vaccine could conceivably confer protection against all Zika virus strains, they say of their study, which appears in Cell Reports.

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With the first local outbreak of Zika in the U.S. spreading, scientists are rushing to develop a vaccine.
Locally, transmitted, Zika, US, vaccine
Monday, 01 Aug 2016 12:29 PM
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