Scientists develop world’s first Zika virus clone
Scientists from The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) have developed world’s first genetically engineered clone of the Zika virus strain.
They have dubbed it as infectious complementary DNA (cDNA) clone. It allows researchers to make Zika virus from test tube and cells on petri dishes.
The clone comprises of five fragments of complete zika viral genome which were individually cloned and assembled into the full-length Zika virus clone.
Significance: It will help scientists to quickly develop countermeasures and also to explore evolution of Zika virus and how it spread more quickly.
This biological breakthrough will also aid the development of vaccine and therapies against the infection of vector borne Zika virus which has been linked to serious birth defects.
- UTMB Scientists also developed mosquito infection models and Zika mouse model which will help in deciphering why the virus is tied to serious diseases.
- Furthermore, scientists also engineered a luciferase reporter Zika virus. Luciferase is the chemical in fireflies that gives them their signature glow.
- The glowing reporter virus will be used for antiviral drug screening and to track Zika virus infection in the host Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and small animal models.