The study opens the door to a common vaccine for the disease.
FRANCE – The study of antibodies which have been proven effective in combating dengue virus has uncovered that it may also act, even with better results, against the zika; opening the door to a common vaccine for the disease.
This is one of the findings of a joint study, published in the journal Nature Immunology, experts from the Pasteur Institute and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), from Imperial College London and the University of Vienna, who analyzed how antibodies were set identically in zika and dengue virus.
The origin of this finding is a precedent study of French and British teams, identified antibodies capable of neutralizing the four types of dengue virus, said in a statement released by CNRS.
By knowing the existence of many common elements between dengue and zika – both are part of the family of flavivirus which are transmitted mainly by mosquitoes and have a coat-like proteins – they wanted to see if the antibodies were able to neutralize the two viruses.
To do this, they selected two antibodies that had demonstrated their ability to stop the proliferation of the dengue virus and presented to zika, and saw that one of them acted even more effectively with the second than the first.
The head of the laboratory of Virology at the Pasteur Institute, Felix Rey, considered this “totally unexpected” that the two viruses were so close, to the point that the same antibodies neutralize both.
The researchers then searched for the exact spot for fixing antibodies in zika, where they used X-ray equipment and synchrotrons in Saclay and Grenoble (France) that allow a reconstruction in three dimensions.
They verified that the binding site was the same, which allows to consider the production of a vaccine that stimulates the generation of such antibodies for dengue and Zika.
Rey stressed that these antibodies could protect susceptible pregnant women contracting zika.
This is particularly important for WHO because no scientific evidence of the relationship between infection with the virus and increased cases of congenital malformation in newborns, especially microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.