NIAID is supporting basic research to better understand the Zika virus’ natural history and evolution, viral biology, structure, replication, transmission, and pathogenesis (ability to cause disease) as well as the virus’ interactions with mosquitoes and the human immune response to Zika. NIAID is developing animal models that could be used to test and evaluate candidate therapeutics and vaccines. These animal models could also be used to better understand the effects of the Zika virus on the body, especially during pregnancy, and the impact of the virus on the developing fetus.
NIAID has long-supported research on the biology of mosquitoes to help develop tools to limit the spread of deadly mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria. NIAID is supporting vector competence studies to test various mosquito species for their ability to carry and transmit Zika virus, as well as research to prevent mosquito resistance to insecticides and identify the emergence of resistance early, so it can be managed adequately. Additionally, NIAID is supporting science to find new insecticide targets and methods for reducing the population of mosquitoes transmitting Zika virus in an effort to disrupt further transmission to humans.
NIAID also offers a suite of preclinical resources to assist researchers studying Zika virus. These include the BEI Biological Resources Repository and the World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses, which provide Zika reagents to researchers around the world. In addition, the NIAID-funded Genomic Centers for Infectious Diseases and the Bioinformatics Resource Centers are making available sequencing data and analysis tools for Zika genomes, including those for current and past outbreaks.