Zika virus structure has been deciphered by the Scientists at Purdue University in west Lafayette who also mapped the structure of the common cold virus in ’85.
New microscopy images of the virus has revealed its spherical, golf ball shaped structure similar to that of dengue and west nile viruses which also have a mosquito as a co host.
It was achieved by studying its structure in a cryo electron microscope. This is a form of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in which the sample is studied at cryogenic temperatures (generally liquid nitrogen temperatures). Cryo- EM allows the observation of specimens that have not been stained or fixed in any way, showing them in their native environment. This is in contrast with Xray crystallography which requires crystallizing the specimen, which can be difficult, placing them in non-physiological environments which can occasionally lead to functionally irrelevant conformational changes.
An Indian Biotech company – Bharat Biotech, says that it has two vaccine candidates against Zika virus that will be entering preclinical trials in animals.
There is no evidence yet on how they will perform against zika, but they are the first two vaccines to reach the pre clinical trial stage, which is a promising sign. Up until recently Zika was not thought to be serious and hence there was no research for vaccine. Then, its link to micro-encephaly in newborns was discovered in Americas and fear spread all across the globe which lead to it being declared as a global public health emergency by the WHO.
Bharat Biotech had already been working on these vaccines for the past 18 months for the sole reason that it complemented their research into vaccines for Japanese Encephalitis(JE), Chikungunya and dengue fever, two other diseases spread by Ades aegypti mosquito.
“We thought as a company it will be wonderful to have a combination vaccine of JE, chikengunya and Zika as a combined vaccine, ” The CEO of Bharat Biotech, Krishna Ella, told ABC.