Zika virus (ZIKV) has only recently been exposed as a significant public health threat, and much of our limited knowledge of its pathogenesis and triggered immune responses were discovered in only the last few years. There are currently no ZIKV-specific therapeutics or vaccines available. This review seeks to bring the reader up-to-date with the latest developments in finding a way to combat this emerging infectious disease.
Current strategies used for developing ZIKV vaccines or treatments follow proven methods used against other flaviviruses. Unfortunately, ZIKV carries many unique challenges, such as the need to target drugs and vaccines towards immunocompromised populations (pregnant mothers and fetuses), the risk of stimulating harmful immune responses (either autoimmune or antibody-dependent enhancement of infection in those with previous flavivirus exposure), frequently silent infection that may delay treatment and increase risk of transmission to others, and multiple routes of transmission (arthropod vector, sexual, bloodborne, and potentially other body fluids).
Current medical recommendations are directed towards resolving symptoms and not the actual infection; however, ZIKV treatments and vaccines are in development. Vector control and travel restrictions to endemic areas may remain our only available interventions for some time.
aDepartment of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
bMolecular Biology Interdepartmental Program, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
cCenter of System Medicine, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing
dSuzhou Institute of Systems, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China
Correspondence to Genhong Cheng, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. Tel: +1 310 825 8896; fax: +1 310 206 3865; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org