Local Doctors Looking To Cure The Zika Virus

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 23:46:35-05

Researchers at Vanderbilt University's Vaccine Center just received antibodies from Zika Virus survivors. 

On Thursday the World Health Organization announced that there are 31 confirmed cases in the United States. 

Health officials believe the virus is transmitted through mosquitos and leads to severe head deformities in newborn babies.

Dr. James Crowe said, “Last year in Brazil a major outbreak started and we’ve seen thousands of cases now.”

Dr. James Crowe is the director of the Vaccine Center at Vanderbilt. He believes the cure will be found in the antibodies of survivors. 

Crowe said,  “We are able to take blood cells from people who have survived infection and to make those antibodies as a drug here in the labs so we’re working very hard using blood cells from donors who previously were infected with Zika to make antibody drugs that could be used for treatment or prevention.”

Crowe said they are testing dozens of antibodies to see if any of them have the potential to be turned into a cure. 

Crowe said, “People who have survived, their immune system is now able to fight off the virus so we obtained cells from their  blood and it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. We find the particular cells that are specific for Zika, we pull those out, and we can use the genes from those individual cells to make the antibody that their own body would make but instead we can make it in the lab and give it to another person.”

To learn more about the disease and areas where pregnant women shouldn't travel, visit the Center for Disease Control's website.