Isolated Antibodies Protect Against Zika in Mice


An antibody found in humans might be able to fight the Zika virus which is transmitted through mosquitos.

Patrick Yang ‘20

Zika virus’s 2015-2016 outbreak that infected more than 80,000 people gained much attention because of the severe birth defects caused by it. Although Zika is no longer an international public health emergency, treatment and preventative measures must still be developed in anticipation for a future outbreak, especially since a Zika vaccine does not exist yet.

In a recent study, Dr. Qihui Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues isolated antibodies from one Zika virus-infected patient to create an immunoglobulin therapy. The Zika virus-infected patient’s white blood cells were collected at 20 days after symptom onset. 33 antibodies were then isolated using fluorescence-activated cell sorting and amplified using the ImMunoGeneTics information system. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, a technique to detect antibodies, tested the antibodies’ reactivity to the Zika virus, which resulted in 13 reactive antibodies. These 13 reactive antibodies represent the immune response to combat the Zika virus. Z23 and Z3L1 were determined to be the most potent antibodies with neutralization of the virus at only 0.37 and 0.17 μg/ml, respectively. The least potent antibody, Z1, was neutralized at 164 μg/ml.

The efficacy of Z23 and Z3L1 in protection against Zika was then tested in groups of three to five mice that were injected with the Zika virus and 10 mg/kg of Z23 or Z3L1. Mice treated with the antibodies were completely protected from weight loss and neurological symptoms, whereas mice without antibody treatment had weight loss of approximately 20% and neurological symptoms. Although further research is necessary, complete protection from the Zika virus in mice suggests a potential immunoglobulin therapy for humans in the near future.



  1. Wang, et al., Molecular determinants of human neutralizing antibodies isolated from a patient infected with zika virus. Science 8, (2016). doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8336.
  2. Image retrieved from:

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