May 2, 2018
A new study by researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute shows that marmosets may be the key to a Zika virus vaccine.
Back in 2016, the World Health Organization declared the mosquito-borne virus a global health emergency. Zika was linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil and was rapidly spreading. As summer approaches, health officials at the Centers for Disease Control are warning expectant mothers to be especially vigilant.
Dr. Jean Patterson, one of the researchers at Texas Biomed, says that a possible vaccine is on the horizon with the help of pregnant marmosets. The New World monkeys from Brazil mimic a similar response to humans when they were injected with the virus. In the Texas Biomed study, researchers focused on the marmoset’s reproductive system.
“No other primates have shown to be so sensitive to Zika. We think part of it may be the large number of placenta cells that could serve as a reservoir to inoculate the fetus, and the fetus, perhaps, re-inoculating the placenta back and forth,” Patterson explained.