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Research by agency scientists may help speed development of Zika virus vaccines.
Scientists at FDA have developed a neonatal mouse model that provides a platform for potentially improving studies to understand the pathology of the Zika virus, the agency announced on November 17, 2016. The agency states that better understanding of the impact and long-term effects of the Zika virus infection in mice may help to find ways to combat the virus in humans. The study is a part of a variety of FDA research projects undertaken by the agency to find treatments for Zika.
The new model, described in PLoS Pathogens, uses the C57BL/6 mouse strain. Neonatal mice of this strain are susceptible to the Zika virus, according to FDA researchers, and the mice develop neurological symptoms 12 days after infection. “These mice eventually recover from disease and thus the model provides an opportunity to study the virus’ long-term effects as well as an additional means for early exploration of experimental Zika virus vaccines and therapeutics,” said FDA in a press release.
"There are many unanswered and essential questions about how the Zika virus works, including the long-term impact," said Daniela Verthelyi, the FDA’s chief of the Laboratory of Immunology, in the release. "This mouse model gives researchers a new tool to study and understand how the Zika virus replicates and spreads in the body, which we hope will provide these critical answers."
The agency is also working on ways to respond to the Zika virus outbreak including protecting the US supply of blood, human cells, tissues, and tissue-based products. FDA is encouraging the “development of diagnostic tests to help clinicians detect and diagnose Zika virus infection, and evaluating the safety and efficacy of any investigational vaccines and therapeutics that are currently in various stages of early development.”