A Fetus-Targeted Antibody Therapy to Prevent Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy
Technical Report,01 May 2019,30 Apr 2020
University of Massachusetts Amherst United States
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Interventions are urgently needed to prevent the severe fetal complications of Zika virus infection. In the US, one in ten pregnant women infected with Zika virus delivered babies with severe birth defects, including small head size microcephaly and other neurological problems. Once the fetus is infected, there is nothing we can do to stop viral replication with current technologies. An approach considered safe for the fetus is to administer antibodies that can neutralize Zika virus. The problem, however, is that these effective antivirals, cannot reach the fetal tissues early in the pregnancy in sufficient amounts to be effective. Here, we are proposing to engineer antibody molecules so that they will cross the placenta effectively and reach the fetus. We will test our approach in rhesus monkeys, the best animal model of Zika virus infections during human pregnancy, by administering our fetus-targeted antibody to pregnant macaques and challenging with Zika virus. If the antibodies can indeed prevent fetal infection on macaques, this proposal might lead to one of the first effective therapies for Zika virus infection.