World’S First Plant-Based Zika Vaccine (Download PDF)

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Scientists from US developed the world’s first plant-based Zika vaccine claimed to be more effective, safer, and cheaper by using proteins derived from Tobacco plant. The plant-based Zika vaccine works against DIII, a part of a Zika viral protein playing a key role in infecting people.

Image of Plant Based Zika Vaccine

Image of Plant Based Zika Vaccine

Image of Plant Based Zika Vaccine

How Does Plant-Based Zika Vaccine Work?

  • All flaviviruses have the envelope protein on the outside part of the virus with three domains- domain III has a unique stretch of DNA for the Zika virus.

  • Researchers exploited domain III for generating a robust and protective immune response that is unique for Zika.

  • After growing the envelope, protein in bacteria researchers’ prepared the D-III protein domain in tobacco plants.

  • Multiple immunization experiments on mice shows 100 % protection against multiple Zika virus strains.

What is Zika Virus?

  • Zika is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aides Aegyptus mosquitoes, which transmits dengue, West Nile fever, Yellow fever.

  • Virus named after Zika forest in Uganda where it was first isolated in 1947.

  • Capable of causing serious birth defects i. e. neurological disorders and fetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads.

  • Once infected Zika virus disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact.

The Zika Epidemic of 2015

  • Zika threat first emerged in 2015, infecting millions in South America

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease as epidemic and global health emergency but later revoked it after the outbreak was brought under control.

Significance of Discovery

  • Zika is potentially deadly disease with no licensed vaccines or therapeutics available to combat.

  • Plant protein-based vaccine uses smallest and unique part of the Zika virus that can elicit a potent and robust immune response

  • The immune response against Zika Virus does not produce antibodies cross-reactive for West Nile fever, Dengue, Yellow fever or others.

- Published/Last Modified on: September 26, 2017

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