In their paper, Neutralization Mechanism of a Highly Potent Antibody Against Zika Virus, Associate Professor Lok Shee-Mei and her team at the Emerging Infectious Disease Programme of Duke-NUS further explored the previously discovered C10, which is believed by most experts as the most potent antibody that can neutralize the Zika virus.
Zika is a mosquito-borne infection that causes microcephaly in infants and other birth defects. It has affected at least 69 countries since its first outbreak in 2015.
Through the use of cryoelectron microscopy, a method which allows for the visualization of extremely small particles and their interactions, Dr. Lok and her team visualized C10 antibody interacting with the Zika virus under different pH levels, mimicking the different environments both the antibody and virus will find themselves in throughout infection.
The researchers have found that C10 binds to the main protein that makes up the Zika virus coat, regardless of pH, and locks these proteins into place, preventing the structural changes required for the fusion step of infection. Without the fusion of the virus to the endosome, viral DNA is prevented from entering the cell, and infection is prevented, Science Daily reports.
"Hopefully, these results will further accelerate the development of C10 as a Zika therapy to combat its effects of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. This should emphasise the need for further studies of the effect of C10 on Zika infection in animal models," Dr. Lok said.
In an article by Eureka Alert, Ralph Baric, PhD, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health said, "By defining the structural basis for neutralization, these studies provide further support for the idea that this antibody will protect against Zika infection, potentially leading to a new therapy to treat this dreaded disease."
The results of this new study implies that C10 can potentially be used as a means of treatment and therapy for Zika infection.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently declared that Zika virus is no longer a Health Emergency of International Concern. Meanwhile experts working on the birth defect-causing pandemic quickly echoed their disappointment, saying that the WHO's announcement might cause delays in international support and lead people living in high-risk areas to believe that there is no more threat of infection.
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