In what can be defined as a remarkable development in the field of medical science, a team of US Scientists have developed a new mouse model for testing drugs and vaccines to fight against the Zika virus.
A competent team of researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch have successfully come up with the new mouse model, which will accelerate the development of the Zika drug. This study has already provided the team with a few helpful clues on the pathogenesis of the Zika virus.
Shannan Rossi, the lead author, mentioned in a statement that there is an increasing demand for screening antivirals, which have been built up because they did not have a better method to put them to test. She further said that in the absence of this model, it would not have been possible to develop new methods of treatments.
You can search for efficacy in cell cultures, but that doesn’t tell you anything about what’s going to take place when you test it on a human or a mouse. This will help get those medications and vaccine candidates shifting through the pipeline.
“Normally, creating a mouse model like this would take us several months, but the urgency of the situation propelled us into this rapid response, and we were able to put together our results in just three weeks,” Rossi said.
Rossi injected the Zika virus (isolated in Asia in the year 2010) into the bodies of genetically different species of laboratory mice. The recent outbreak in South America has its roots in the lineage of the Asian Zika virus, of which this strain is a part.
According to the research team, common mice infected with Zika virus did not develop any diseases and it’s only when researchers injected genetically altered mice with the virus that they developed a deficient inherent response followed by detectible illness. They also found that young mice of such strains are at a greater risk of developing infection. These mice started to lose weight, became lethargic and died within a week after infection. The health of the older mice, on the other hand, deteriorated, but without developing infection every time and their health eventually improved.
The mouse model is available without any delay for antivirals testing and researcher, Scott Weaver, said that initial testing is already in progress with an antiviral developed by another member from the UTMB team, Pei-Yong Shi, PhD, to cure dengue fever.