Sunday, November 6, 2016

Relationship between Zika and Dengue Antibody-Dependent Enhancement

Dengue is a well-known virus that continues to see higher numbers of cases as time progresses, however the newly emerging Zika virus may actually share many similarities with Dengue.  In terms of viral research this relationship could provide valuable opportunities to establish breakthroughs in the treatment or management of the emerging Zika virus.  Both of these viruses are transmitted through the use of a vector, in both cases it is the same mosquito species, which gives rise to many issues when attempting to control the virus.  One of the more recent establishments in studying Zika came from comparing the host cell infection process with that of Dengue, which utilizes and interesting function termed antibody-dependent enhancement.  This process is defined as a failure of the immune system to correctly identify the different strains of virus that infect the host based upon the proceeding antibody to antigen relationship.  This results in a variability in virulence when infected with Dengue, with the first instance of infection being mild, but with the second instance being of a new strain the virulence increased to about 10%.  This mechanism was then applied to Zika with the goal of perhaps establishing some form of a protective measure as the antibodies of Zika and Dengue are nearly indistinguishable even when specifically tested for their antibodies.  The result of the research was variable, however researchers concluded that being previously infected with Dengue could perhaps protect against Zika infection depending on whether or not the immune system has an appropriate antibody response.

-Ethan Wentworth

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