Attempts to isolate human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against Zika virus have led to broadly neutralising antibodies that also show activity against Dengue virus. If used therapeutically, this “cross-reactivity” could potentially increase the severity of Dengue fever if a patient subsequently caught Dengue virus.
To address this situation, researchers attempted to isolate Zika-specific mAbs from the blood of a recuperating patient.
They identified two mAbs that potently bound and neutralised Zika virus in vitro, but did not show any activity against the four known strains of Dengue virus. Mice infected with Zika virus were completely protected when either mAb was administered one day after infection.
Reporting in Science Translational Medicine
(online, 14 December 2016), the team says the results show the promise of antibody-based immunotherapy against Zika virus, and provide a basis for the design of future Zika-specific antivirals.