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Office of Neuroscience Research > WUSTL Neuroscience News > Antibody protects against both Zika and dengue, mouse study shows

Antibody protects against both Zika and dengue, mouse study shows



Treating pregnant women before infection may protect fetuses from Zika

From the WashU Newsroom...

Brazil and other areas hardest hit by the Zika virus – which can cause babies to be born with abnormally small heads – are also home to dengue virus, which is spread by the same mosquito species.

A new study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that an antibody that protects against dengue virus is also effective against Zika in mice.

Antibodies remain in the bloodstream for weeks, so one or a few doses of an antibody-based drug given over the course of a woman’s pregnancy potentially could protect her fetus from Zika, with the added benefit of protecting her from both Zika and dengue disease, the researchers said. Dengue causes high fever, severe headaches, and joint and muscle pain in children and adults but does not directly harm fetuses.

“We found that this antibody not only neutralizes the dengue virus but, in mice, protects both adults and fetuses from Zika disease,” said Michael S. Diamond, MD, PhD, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine and the study’s senior author.

The study is published Sept. 25 in Nature Immunology.

Since dengue and Zika are related viruses, the researchers reasoned that an antibody that prevents dengue disease may do the same for Zika. Diamond and graduate student Estefania Fernandez collaborated with Gavin Screaton, MD, DPhil, of Imperial College London, who had generated a panel of human anti-dengue antibodies years before.

The scientists infected nonpregnant adult mice with Zika virus and then administered one of the anti-dengue antibodies one, three or five days after infection. For comparison, another group of mice was infected with Zika virus and then given a placebo. Within three weeks of infection, more than 80 percent of the untreated mice had died, whereas all of the mice that received the anti-dengue antibody within three days of infection were still alive, and 40 percent of those that received the antibody five days after infection survived.

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