Anti-Dengue antibodies enhance Zika virus infection

by Robert W. Buckheit III

June 28, 2016

A recently published research article suggested that prior infection with Dengue virus generates Dengue serotype specific neutralizing antibodies which may enhance infectability and severity of Zika virus infection. Global surveillance of Zika virus infection is complicated by the high rates of Dengue virus infection, which could have significant impact on the outcome of Zika virus infection. In this study, researchers used in vitro methods to demonstrate that broadly neutralizing anti-Dengue E protein antibodies cross-react with Zika virus, but do not neutralize the virus. In vitro, this results in an antibody-dependent enhancement of Zika virus infection. The mechanism of Zika virus infection enhancement is under further investigation, but is thought to occur through a FCRII-dependent process, similar to the enhancement seen with infection among multiple serotypes of Dengue viruses. These results could have implication to both Zika and Dengue virus vaccine efforts, as large scale Dengue vaccination efforts could result in an intensification of Zika virus infection in Dengue virus endemic regions. The article is currently available through pre-print on bioRxiv.

As part of our ViroSENS program, ImQuest BioSciences has established an anti-Zika virus cytoprotection assay for multiple strains of Zika virus in multiple cell types. This assay is available for screening small molecules and biologics against Zika virus, and is a rapid method to test for efficacy and cellular toxicity of candidate antiviral agents. We currently offer screening against the MR766 (Uganda), PRVABC59 (Puerto Rico), IBH30656 (Nigeria), and FLR (Columbia) strains in LLCMK2, Vero, BHK21 and Huh7 cells, utilizing ribavirin as a positive control drug. We can also perform supportive screens against other mosquito borne infections, such as Dengue, Chikungunya, West Nile and Yellow Fever virus.

Our anti-Zika virus services may also be used to support regulatory filings for vaccine and biologic products. The development of vaccines and biologic products requires GLP-compliant immuno- and bio-assays to quantify the pharmacokinetic profile of the product, to understand the immunogenicity of the product when provided to animals or humans, and to understand if the immunogenicity results in neutralization of the product. ImQuest has the capability and experience to develop, qualify and validate and perform GLP-compliant immunoassays to support the evaluation of vaccines and biologics through animal safety/toxicology and human clinical trials.

Contact us to learn more about our ViroSENS program and our anti-Zika virus product development services.

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