A team led by Shigeru Tajima, a researcher at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, has succeeded, probably for the first time in the world, in making a clone of the Zika virus.
This could lead to the development of a vaccine for Zika fever. No effective vaccine has so far been available for the mosquito-borne disease.
The clone was made based on a Zika virus detected in Uganda, Tajima said Tuesday.
As early as next month, the team will likely be able to clone the strain of the Zika virus now spreading in Latin America by recombining the genes of the cloned virus, helping to pave the way for the development of a vaccine, he said.
The Zika virus is suspected to cause microcephaly in newborn babies. Early this month, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency over the virus.