Vaccine that deactivates West Nile virus discovered

Researchers from Purdue University’s biology department have discovered an antibody capable of deactivating West Nile virus.

The researchers, led by Michael Rossmann, hope that the discovery could potentially provide a vaccine for the disease. They have been studying a class of virus called the flavivirus that includes Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis and West Nile, according to

The research utilized several advance imaging techniques, including X-ray crystallography, which can determine the structure of different virus strains, and cryo-electron microscopy, which can observe the structure formed by binding an antibody to a virus.

In their most recent study, the researchers examined the CR4354 antibody, which is capable of linking with the West Nile virus and prohibiting it from causing infection, reports.

“The antibody crosslinking causes the virus to become rigid,” Rossmann said, according to “Ultimately, this rigidity locks the West Nile Virus and prevents it from fusing adequately with the host cells.”

The virus, endemic in areas of Europe, Asia and Africa, is spread through mosquitoes and has been responsible for the deaths of 400 Americans over the last five years.

“Right now, our focus is not on creating a vaccine. Our goal is to look at different antibodies and understand how they operate,” Rossmann said, reports. “Then, we can figure out how they can be utilized to neutralize the virus.”

The Purdue group has been working with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Crucell Holland BV, a Dutch biopharmaceutical company. It was initially supported by an organization called the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative that was supported by the Gates Foundation. More recent funding has come from the National Institutes of Health.

Organizations in this story

National Institutes of Health 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, MD 20892

Get notified the next time we write about National Institutes of Health!