Chinese researchers have identified two Zika antibodies from an infected patient that could provide mice with complete protection against the mosquito-borne virus. The finding could lead to the development of anti-Zika therapies and vaccines.
Yan Jinghua, with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microbiology, said the antibodies exclusively target the Zika virus, and show great potential for curing microcephaly.
“We seldom have a drug with specificity for the treatment of a viral disease, especially for Zika virus. However, this antibody has high specificity for Zika virus. After the mice were infected with Zika virus, we gave them antibody therapy. The virus was then completely eliminated.”
The researchers isolated immune B cells from the blood of an infected patient returning from Venezuela to China, who later recovered and generated a total of 13 antibodies that were confirmed to bind to the virus.
Two of these antibodies, known as Z23 and Z3L1, potently eliminated the Zika virus in the laboratory.
Structural analysis has suggested that the two antibodies block infection by targeting sites on the virus’ envelope protein, which is known to facilitate virus entry into cells.
Researchers say it may only take two days to isolate the antibodies, and more than 10 days to verify their functions. So one month is enough for the whole process.
The study has been published online in the U.S. journal Science Translational Medicine.