- Inactivated Zika vaccine candidate development
- Vaccine production and efficacy testing
- Diagnostic assay development for Zika virus
- Other research purposes
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus primarily transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitoes. Infection with ZIKV during pregnancy can affect the fetus causing microcephaly, neurological complications, and other birth defects. Adults are also at risk of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome and other neurological disorders from ZIKV infection. In response to the 2015-2016 Zika outbreak, CDC researchers developed new Zika virus chimeras that can be used for inactivated Zika vaccine candidates and faster Zika antibody (Ab) neutralization assay testing. CDC scientists successfully engineered cDNA clones for the chimeric constructs based on a West Nile (WN) Virus NY99 genetic backbone and recovered three fast-growth chimeric WN/Zika viruses. These chimeric viruses replicate significantly faster and produce a more uniform virus population than the parental wild-type Zika virus from cell culture. Future research will include inactivated vaccine efficacy testing in mouse models. Preliminary data shows that the WN/Zika chimeras reduce the gold standard plaque neutralization reduction Ab assay testing time from 6 to 4 days. The chimeric constructs also include reporter genes for diagnostic use with automated plate readers. The reporter chimeric virus permits direct live-image based cell cytometry analysis for an easy, fast, and high throughput micro-neutralization Ab assay within 24 hours without any cell overlay, cell detaching, cell fixation, or staining process.
- The WN viral genetic background of this construct offers applications in inactivated Zika vaccine and
diagnostic assay development
- New chimeras express the whole Zika virion
- Enhanced chimeric growth efficiency may facilitate vaccine production
- The chimeric virus reduced traditional plaque-reduction neutralization test time from 6 to 4 days, and reduced the micro-focus reduction neutralization assay from 2-3 days to 1-2 days after cell infection
- The addition of fluorescent reporter gene in the reporter chimeric virus can be used with automated plate readers/image analysis for high-throughput assay and further streamline the neutralization assay to an easy and high-throughput platform. Furthermore, reporter chimeric dengue viruses (type 1-4), another CDC patent, were also developed with the same platform, and therefore allow simultaneous obtaining fast neutralization test results to Zika and all 4 dengue viruses within 24 hours post cell infection.