From Science Daily
September 13, 2018
A type of immune cell that produces a protein called CD4 plays an important role in protecting mice infected with the Zika virus against severe neurological disease, according to a study published September 6 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Amelia Kahler Pinto of Saint Louis University, and colleagues. Based on the findings, vaccines that induce strong responses from these immune cells, known as CD4+T cells, should be developed to prevent invasion of the Zika virus into the brain and spinal cord.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus that has recently spread throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. In some cases, Zika infection during pregnancy causes severe birth defects such as microencephaly — a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected. Infection with the virus can also cause neurological disease in adults. With growing awareness of the increased risk of severe neurological problems associated with Zika virus infection, focus has shifted toward detection, defining correlates of protection, and the development of a vaccine or antiviral to protect against disease progression. However, efforts focused on prevention and treatment have been limited by the lack of knowledge about how to generate a protective immune response against this emerging pathogen.