Virginia Tech researchers study Zika virus hoping to find vaccine

BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) – Virginia Tech researchers are working to learn more about the Zika virus and its potential threat to the public.

Housing thousands of mosquitoes, researchers studying the Zika virus, have plenty of test subjects.

“We’re trying to understand how exactly the mosquito’s immune response works and then how the virus overcomes that immune system to be transmitted to a human host,” said Associate Professor Kevin Myles.

Over the last decade, Myles and fellow researcher Zach Adelman have studied mosquito born viruses like West Nile and Yellow Fever. Familiar with the mosquito’s anatomy and how other diseases are transmitted, they’re hoping to find answers to better understand the Zika virus.

“What we’re trying to do is just everyday learn more and hopefully we’ll reach a point where we can implement a new strategy,” said Adelman, “I wouldn’t say so much as a cure, but a vaccine which is more of a prophylactic; it’s a preventative strategy to prevent a person from becoming infected in the first place.”

Researchers said, by dissecting the mosquito’s stomachs, they can understand where the virus begins. More supplies are needed before they can move forward.

“One of the things we’re ordering is the virus itself,” said Myles. “We also have to order proteins and DNA sequences.” This way researchers can study how each infected mosquito’s immune system reacts to the virus hoping to inch closer to a vaccine.

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