The Zika virus was discovered in the 1940s, but only became well-known when it caused a global health emergency as it spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015 and 2016. Also called the ZIKV, this virus causes many congenital disabilities, including microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to have underdeveloped heads and brain damage.
Mosquitoes are the primary spreading source of the ZIKV. A human can contract the virus when they are bitten by a mosquito that had previously bitten a person with the virus. However, it was recently discovered that the virus might also be sexually transmitted. If someone who has been bitten by a Zika infected mosquito has intercourse with someone who hasn’t, that person may also contract it.
Cocktail of Antibodies to Stop the ZIKV
Researchers at Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. and South Korea’s GeneOne Life Science Inc. have recently discovered that a combination consisting of three different antibodies has proven to be effective in preventing the disease, at least in primates.
The three antibodies, SMZAb1, SMZAb2, and SMZAb5, were isolated from a pregnant Zika patient. A “cocktail” was made out of them and administered to primates. The following day, the test subjects were exposed to the ZIKV.
According to reports, the virus never appeared in the primates that had received the antibody cocktail. In contrast, all of the specimens that had not been given the cocktail became infected within seven days of being exposed to the virus.
According to David Watkins, a professor at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine and the study lead, none of these three antibodies is harmful to pregnant women or their unborn fetus. He says that it wouldn’t take long for the combination to be turned into a vaccine for expecting mothers that are not infected with the virus already to prevent various congenital disabilities.
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