Researchers part of a new study led by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have been trying to find a method of preventing the Zika virus. Now, they claim to have found an experimental therapy based on a “cocktail” of monoclonal antibodies that can prevent ZIKV (or Zika virus) infections, at least in primates.
The study team will be looking to conduct human trials to test their method “as soon as possible”.
The Experimental Therapy is Based on Monoclonal Antibodies
An international team of scientists is behind this new study. Their research concentrates on three monoclonal antibodies. Also called moAb or mAb, monoclonal antibodies are antibodies composed of identical immune cells. These are all considers to be clones of a single parent cell.
The three mAbs targeted by the study were isolated from the samples taken by a South American patient by Burton group specialists. Called SMZAb5, SMZAb2, and SMZAb1, they were noted to be potent, Zika virus neutralizers.
According to a statement from the researchers, they developed an experimental therapy based on a cocktail of these three monoclonal antibodies. Then, this was administered to four ‘nonhuman’ primates just a day before exposing them to the ZIKV.
“To our surprise, this prophylactic treatment completely prevented the virus from taking hold in the animals,” stated David Watkins, a Ph.D., professor and Department of Pathology vice-chair.
The small-scale trials also included four other primates, that were also exposed to the virus but without receiving the experimental therapy. Seven days later, these were presenting a ‘fulminant infection’.
In contrast, the nonhuman primates that received the antibody cocktail returned no measurable ZIKV levels in their blood. They also did not present any immune system response either. This led the scientists to believe that the virus had been completely blocked.
“Since these antibodies have exceptional safety profiles in humans and cross the placenta, this combination could be rapidly developed to protect uninfected pregnant women and their fetuses,” declared Watkins.
The team is hoping to be able to start clinical trials on humans “as soon as possible”.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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