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Antibody protects against Zika virus in tests in mice


TEM of Zika virus
ZIKA BLOCKER A new therapy tested in mice curtails the effects of Zika virus (shown red in this transmission electron microscope image).

The battle against Zika may have some new firepower. A single dose of a human antibody called ZIKV-117 can protect mice from death after Zika infection — and shield mouse fetuses from the virus’s damaging effects, researchers report November 7 in Nature.

In humans, Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to a suite of birth defects including a condition known as microcephaly, which leaves babies with shrunken heads and brains. It’s not yet clear whether a new treatment based on the antibody would work in humans (or even in monkeys). But if it does, ZIKV-117 could potentially offer pregnant women a way to defend themselves — and their babies — from a virus that tore through Brazil and has now encroached upon the United States.

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