Biting Back

New finding could lead to Zika virus vaccine

Zika Zapper: Mark Mulligan of the Emory Vaccine Center coauthored a landmark study.
Ann Borden

From the Olympics in Brazil to scattered cases in the US, the mosquito-borne Zika virus has been hovering in headlines as researchers at Emory and around the world make progress toward understanding and treating the latest buzzword in infectious disease.

Recently scientists discovered that Zika virus infection is caused by one virus serotype, according to a study conducted by investigators from the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases of the national institutes of health, Emory, and Washington University in St. Louis. By contrast, the closely related dengue virus has four serotypes, which is why people can be infected with dengue as many as four times. This latest finding, published in the journal cell reports, means that vaccination against a single strain of Zika virus should be sufficient to protect against genetically diverse strains.

“It’s very important to know that infection with Zika virus can produce antibodies that could fight any strain of the virus,” says Mark Mulligan, executive director of the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center and coauthor for the study report. “This result is encouraging and helpful in understanding the immune response to the virus and developing an effective zika vaccine.”

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