Zi­ka break­through as re­searchers re­ve­al an­ti­bo­dy tre­at­ment

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

USA - A new stu­dy of the Zi­ka vi­rus in mi­ce rai­ses ho­pe for a way to pro­tect preg­nant wo­men and their ba­bies from the pos­si­ble re­per­cus­si­ons of being in­fec­ted, U.S. re­searchers said on Mon­day.

The ex­pe­ri­men­tal tre­at­ment is de­ri­ved from an­ti­bo­dies ta­ken from the blood of pe­o­p­le who have re­co­ver­ed from Zi­ka in­fec­ti­ons.

Te­sted on preg­nant mi­ce, the tre­at­ment re­du­ced le­vels of the vi­rus in the mo­thers, and al­so pro­tec­ted their pups from the ra­va­ges of the vi­rus. Zi­ka, spread pri­ma­ri­ly through mosqui­toes, has been known to cau­se birth de­fects in in­fants who­se mo­thers have been in­fec­ted du­ring preg­nan­cy.

‘This is proof of prin­ci­ple that Zi­ka vi­rus du­ring preg­nan­cy is tre­a­ta­ble, and we al­rea­dy have a hu­man an­ti­bo­dy that tre­ats it, at least in mi­ce,’ said Dr. Mi­chael Dia­mond of Was­hing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty School of Me­di­ci­ne in St. Louis, co-au­thor of the stu­dy pu­blis­hed on Mon­day in the jour­nal Na­tu­re.

In the stu­dy, the re­searchers scree­ned 29 Zi­ka-spe­ci­fic an­ti­bo­dies ta­ken from the whi­te blood cells of pa­tients who re­co­ver­ed from Zi­ka in­fec­ti­ons cau­sed by strains in Asia, Afri­ca and the Ame­ri­cas. They found one, cal­l­ed ZIKV117, that neu­tra­li­zed all of the strains. The team then te­sted the an­ti­bo­dies in preg­nant mi­ce one day be­fo­re and a day af­ter in­fec­ti­on with Zi­ka. ‘The an­ti­bo­dy re­du­ces vi­rus in the mo­ther and al­so in the fe­tus, and it pro­tects against pla­cen­tal and fe­tal da­ma­ge,’ said Dr. Ja­mes Cro­we of Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty School of Me­di­ci­ne.

‘The­se na­tu­ral­ly oc­cur­ring hu­man an­ti­bo­dies iso­la­ted from hu­mans re­pre­sent the first me­di­cal in­ter­ven­ti­on that pre­vents Zi­ka in­fec­ti­on and da­ma­ge to fe­tuses,’ said Cro­we.

‘We’re ex­ci­ted be­cau­se the da­ta sug­gests we may have an­ti­bo­dy tre­at­ments in hand that could be de­vel­o­ped for use in preg­nant wo­men,’ he said.

Cro­we said he in­tends to keep pres­sing ahead, li­cen­sing the pro­duct to com­mer­ci­al part­ners.

He be­lie­ves it can be rea­dy for hu­man tri­als in ni­ne to 12 months, ‘if we go flat out.’ Still, Dr. Anthony Fau­ci, di­rec­tor of the Na­ti­o­nal In­sti­tu­te of Al­ler­gy and In­fec­tious Di­sea­ses, which fun­ded the re­search, cau­ti­o­ned that not eve­ry­thing that works in mi­ce works in pe­o­p­le.


Uni­que Ro­bin­son talks with her ob­ste­tri­ci­an, Dr. Aa­ron El­kin, about her ul­tra­sound exam. Ms. Ro­bin­son was not dia­gno­sed with the vi­rus. (Photo: The New York Ti­mes)

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