New Model for Zika Virus can Assist in Testing Vaccines and Treatments

New Model for Zika Virus can Assist in Testing Vaccines and Treatments

Researchers at Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio reveled on December 12, 2017 that they have developed an alternative animal model, which mimics key features of the Zika virus infection including its prolonged presence in body fluids.

Acute infections in male marmosets resemble the human illness symptoms that are caused by infection of Zika virus in patients. It also includes the presence of the virus in semen, saliva, and urine up to two weeks after initial infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although the primary mode of transmission of the Zika virus is through mosquito bites, Zika virus can also spread through sexual contact.

Most of the non-human primates used in this study lack clinical symptoms of infection. Commonly studied models for Zika virus are rhesus and cynomolgus macaque. Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) can be a good model since they are as small as size of a rat. These monkeys have shown high susceptibility to infection by a variety of pathogens including Ebola virus and Lassa virus that affect humans, which has made marmosets useful alternative for drug and vaccine testing.

“Given the key similarities to human infections, a marmoset model of Zika may be useful for testing of new drug and vaccines,” said Texas Biomedical Research Institute virologist Jean Patterson. “Having an animal model of Zika infection to study may help us identify places where we might be able to block transmission.” The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“That size can be an advantage when testing experimental vaccines and therapeutics that are available in limited quantities,” explained Suzette Tardif, Ph.D., the Associate Director of Research at the Southwest National Primate Research Center at Texas Biomed. Recently, Zika virus was discovered in serum and saliva from marmosets living in the wild in Brazil, suggesting that these non-human primates are “a potential reservoir for maintaining Zika virus in endemic countries,” according to Patterson’s report.

According Small Animal Imaging Market report published by Coherent market Insights, small animal imaging technique can be effectively used to examine the effects of vaccines and treatments on model for treatment of Zika virus. Researchers are working on finding out mode of transmission of these from pregnant mother to fetus. Southwest National Primate Research Center’s (SNPRC) is committed to treating animals humanely and with the highest regard for their well-being for the sake of the animals and the quality of research programs.

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