Scientists develop Zika replicon system to develop vaccines

Scientists have developed Zika replicon system, a novel tool to replicate the Zika virus by stripping it of the genes that make the virus infectious.
The Zika replicon system is considered as an advance novel tool that may pave the way for development vaccine to fight Zika virus.
How it works?
The Zika replicon system deleted some of the genes that give the Zika virus its structure. The system was engineered by attaching genes that allow researchers to tag certain parts of the Zika virus for making it a powerful tool for vaccine development. The system has made Zika virus no longer infectious and also lowered the safety risk involved in working with it.
What are Replicons?
Replicons are basically segments of viral genome that can replicate on their own, independent of the cellular chromosome. They can be used to locate portions of the viral molecule that block or halt viral replication. They can also study potential antiviral agents by differentiating between when the virus is making copies of itself and when it’s altering its structure. Thus, they can be used for making a powerful tool for vaccine development.

  • Recent Zika virus outbreak has highlighted the urgent need to establish genetic tools for studying how the virus multiplies and causes disease in order to develop countermeasures.
  • It has also become important to deal with Zika virus which is spreading rapidly and behaves differently than other viruses as it can be transmitted sexually and is associated with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).