The scientists are closer than ever to having developed a Zika vaccine that is also effective against dengue virus.
The making of a Zika vaccine is something that is within the grasp of the researchers. A group of British scientists have made inroads in this complex field.
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Studies show that the Zika virus is made worse by another ailment that is transmitted by the same mosquito. If you have had the Dengue Fever beforehand, you are more liable to contract the Zika virus, according to a news study published in Nature. This is why in Brazil, where Dengue is very common, the Zika virus has wreaked havoc.
The previous infection with Dengue also causes microencephaly later on with the onset of the Zika virus. Babies are born that have very small heads and are liable to have developmental issues later on. The work on all this is still in its nascent phase. Progress will however be made with the passing months.
The Zika virus employs the body’s own immune system as a carrier and thus its transmission into the cells is ensured. Once inside the human body, the Zika virus starts multiplying rapidly. An antibody that works against Dengue Fever may also neutralize Zika virus. Thus the hopes of a vaccine are in the air.
While Dengue is not as vicious an illness as Zika, its occurrence has risen over the times. It leads to 390 million infections worldwide on an annual basis. The virus family is the same in both cases. Termed the Flaviviridae, both viruses are passed on by the Aedes mosquito.
As experiments carried out in the lab showed, Dengue antibodies can easily bind with Zika virus thanks to the similarity between the two diseases. A Zika outbreak can be enhanced by Dengue antibodies via a process known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE).
Scientists still need to know whether ADE may lead to a transference of the Zika virus across the female placenta. A group of antibodies that bind to a site on Dengue – known as EDE1 – were capable of stopping the Zika virus from gaining entry into the immune system.
Zika and Dengue are not only from the same virus family but have the same genetic structure, infectious pattern and immune response, according to a study publsihed in Nature Immunology.
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Whether this similarity causes the co-existent epidemic outbreaks of the two diseases is a moot point. There still exist more questions than answers. Yet the scientists may be on to something here and a Zika vaccine may just be on the horizon.