Thousands of babies have been born with congenital Zika syndrome as a result of the emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) that has spread across the Americas and will continue to reach new ZIKV naive populations in the future. The ZIKV epidemic stands out as particularly alarming due to its association with poor pregnancy outcomes, including infant death and severe fetal neurologic damage manifesting as microcephaly, hearing and vision loss, and developmental delays. ZIKV has been linked to the startling rise in the cases of microcephaly among newborns in areas where it has become endemic. The epidemic and its alarming fetal consequences will result in a generation of disabled children in areas of the world that suffer from limited health care resources, leaving a considerable societal burden for decades to come.
Zika Mother-to-Child-Transmission Research
The Assessment of antibody-based immune protection against ZIKV in the setting of challenge and re-challenge allows characterization of a mature and robust secondary immune response in the context of a broader primary immune response. The Sallie Permar Laboratory is currently isolating and identifying several monoclonal antibodies that are specific to the Zika virus envelope protein. These insights will guide the development of effective vaccines and immune-based therapeutics. We collaborate with the University of Wisconsin, the University of California- Davis, and the Universidade Federal do Espírito Vitória, Brazil.