Monoclonal antibody treatment protects monkeys from Zika infection
Neutralizing monoclonal antibodies engineered from three humans infected with Zika virus protected non-human primates from contracting the mosquito-borne disease, according to a new study published in Science Translational Medicine.
Monoclonal antibodies have been an area of interest since the current Zika epidemic began in 2015, because they can be developed more quickly than traditional vaccines and would avoid an antibody-dependent effect (ADE) observed in other flavivirus vaccines.
To conduct the study, researchers mixed antibodies from three humans infected with Zika, engineered to eliminate the potential for ADE, to create a cocktail injected into macaques. The animals were then challenged with Zika virus, and the cocktail prevented viral replication in all the animals.
The authors said these results pave the way for human trials, even in pregnant women, the group health officials most want to protect, given the damage the virus can cause in unborn babies.
"The administration of human neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (nmAbs) in pregnant women to prevent ZIKV infection could be especially beneficial because they are generally considered safe and maternal antibodies cross the placenta and are the predominant means of fetal immunity," the authors write.
Oct 4 Sci Transl Med study
Zika surveillance outside Americas identifies travelers as disease sentinels
An analysis of Zika virus in travelers outside of the Americas designed to look at patterns in Africa, Asia, and Pacific regions found that patients were sentinel markers of Zika activity in five countries: Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam in Cameroon. An international group of researchers who are part of the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network reported their findings yesterday in PLOS One.
They looked at records from 64 travel and tropical medicine clinics in 29 countries, focusing on returning travelers with confirmed or probable Zika infection acquired in Africa, Asian, and Pacific regions from January 2012 through December 2016. Illnesses were contracted in Asia (18), the Pacific (10), and Africa (1).
The system flagged the first confirmed Zika infection in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in 2015, along with a probable case from the Southeast Asian nation Timor-Leste in April 2016.
The team also looked at the timing of Zika advisories from some of the world's major health organizations, finding that travel advisories were variable, due to uncertainties about risk. They concluded that travelers play a key role in the global spread of Zika virus and serve as sentinels of disease activity. They added that though the clinics don't capture all imported cases, tracking infections in returning travelers can be a helpful part of local surveillance.
Oct 3 PLOS One study