Although the Zika epidemics in the Americas are now history, the Zika virus may re-emerge “in many countries in silence,” commented Sujan Shresta, Ph.D., a professor at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI). “We need to develop effective Zika vaccines.”
In a new study published by Science Advances on November 4, 2020, Shresta and her colleagues at LJI report that the immune system’s T cells have the power to prevent Zika infection in mice. This finding suggests that effective Zika vaccines need to activate T cells to work alongside antibodies.
The research team at LJI found that the vaccine strategy could induce a strong immunity against a potentially lethal Zika virus infection by inducing mainly CD8+ T cells, also called “killer” T cells, against the virus. The vaccine also prevented Zika transmission through the placenta from mother to fetus in pregnant mice.