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New therapeutic methods found for prevention of maternal Zika transmission

The Zika virus is associated with negative pregnancy and birth outcomes including miscarriage, microcephaly, brain abnormalities and other birth defects.

By Amy Wallace
New therapeutic methods found for prevention of maternal Zika transmission
Researchers have identified potential theraputic interventions to prevent Zika transmission from mother to fetus. Photo by mycteria-shutterstock

June 5 (UPI) -- Researchers at Washington University have uncovered potential therapies aimed at blocking the transmission of the Zika virus from mother to fetus.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus is associated with negative pregnancy and birth outcomes including miscarriage, microcephaly, brain abnormalities and other birth defects.

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Intensive research is being conducted by Washington University School of Medicine and other institutions to understand the routes of Zika transmission and how the virus travels to and infects the developing fetus.

Researchers have found that a number of innate and adaptive immune mechanisms and signaling molecules may have key roles in Zika infection pathogenesis and viral entry pathways.

Zika can be spread not only by mosquito transmission but also through sexual contact with an infected person.

Recent studies have shown how Zika reaches the intrauterine space and infects the fetus through broad cell tropism in the human placenta, including infection of placental trophoblasts, endothelial cells, fibroblasts and fetal macrophages known as Hofbauer cells.

Researchers have found that systemic administration of convalescent serum from a patient with prior Zika infection into the peritoneal cavity of pregnant mice infected with Zika successfully protected the fetus from microcephaly and other neurological damage.

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However, limitations of the convalescent plasma weaken the ability to use it as a large-scale therapy. Progress has also been made in identifying neutralizing monoclonal antibodies against Zika from humans and mice with the capacity of blocking Zika transmission.

The progress of the latest research has been published in the Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research.

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