US scientists develop mouse model to test Zika vaccines, drugs

By REUTERS
March 29, 2016 00:03

 
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CHICAGO- U. scientists have identified a genetically modified strain of mice that develop Zika, an important tool needed for testing vaccines and medicines to treat the virus that is rapidly spreading across the Americas and the Caribbean.

Early tests on the mice show the virus growing in the testes, offering clues about how a virus typically spread by mosquito bites can be transmitted sexually.

"We are going to do experiments to see if we can produce sexual transmission" in these mice, said Scott Weaver, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who worked on the study published on Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Weaver said the Zika mouse model will provide a critical tool to allow companies and scientists to test vaccines and antiviral drugs against Zika, which has been linked with thousands of cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect marked by unusually small head size and possible developmental problems.

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