Researchers from the Vanderbilt University and the National University of Singapore have made a discovery which could enable the development of therapies and vaccine against the dengue virus. They have found out that a human monoclonal antibody has the ability to strongly neutralize a type of dengue virus. The paper was published in the journal Science.
Infection with the dengue virus is one of the main causes of death and disease in the tropics with approximately 400 million people being affected by the virus every year. It is usually transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which causes dengue fever. So far the treatments developed for this infection were not complete. This is because the virus has four stereotypes (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4). They are all present in the nature and cannot be predicted. They can cause various symptoms such as fever, vomiting, rashes, bleeding and joint pains. The antibodies created to fight one stereotype cannot function for other stereotypes. That is why the dengue virus is so dangerous and difficult to treat.
DENV-2 is one of the most common stereotypes. Researchers have studied it and discovered that the structure of a human monoclonal antibody could counteract the virus. The scientists had previously created human antibodies in the laboratory against a complex antigenic part of the viral envelope. For the study the researchers used cryo-electron microscopy in order to freeze the DENV-2 stereotype. They did this to analyze the antibody-antigen at an anatomic level.
The findings of the study indicate that the human monoclonal antibody can prevent the virus infection and can also stop it from fusing into the target cells. Moreover it does not only stop the virus when it is in its initial form, but it can also fight it when it is shifted.
This finding could help scientists develop the first effective treatments and vaccines against dengue. The co-author of the study, James Crowe Jr., remarked:
“Scientists in the antibody discovery group of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Centre continue to make great strides in developing novel antiviral drugs, such as this human antibody that not only kills dengue virus but also prevents enhanced dengue disease.”
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