Zika virus – Overview and Current Research


The relentless spread of Zika virus- a once obscure and forgotten infection has set the alarms ringing throughout the world. The huge spike of cases in the Americas, especially in Brazil and the heart-wrenching manifestation of microcephaly in infants has made Zika virus the topmost villain on the hit list of the medical fraternity. Unlike other viral infections such as Ebola, no reliable vaccines or definitive treatment is available currently. In the race against time, scientists are burning the midnight oil to create a potent vaccine that could bring an end to the Zika menace. Researchers have achieved several breakthroughs since the massive outbreak of Zika in early 2015. In the video below, we give you a short overview of the Zika virus and shed light on the milestones achieved in Zika research throughout the world.

You can read more about the scientific discoveries highlighted in the video by following the links below-

  1. Scientists have genetically engineered a Zika virus cDNA clone Shan, Chao, et al. “An Infectious cDNA Clone of Zika Virus to Study Viral Virulence, Mosquito Transmission, and Antiviral Inhibitors.” Cell host & microbe 19.6 (2016): 891-900.
  2. Zika virus causes microcephaly in newborns by hijacking human immune molecules- Dang, Jason, et al. “Zika Virus Depletes Neural Progenitors in Human Cerebral Organoids through Activation of the Innate Immune Receptor TLR3.” Cell stem cell (2016).
  3. Why humans (and not mice) and primates are susceptible to Zika virus – Grant, Alesha, et al. “Zika Virus Targets Human STAT2 to Inhibit Type I Interferon Signaling.” Cell host & microbe (2016).
  4. Researchers solve the structure of the Zika virus helicase- Tian, Hongliang, et al. “The crystal structure of Zika virus helicase: basis for antiviral drug design.” Protein & cell 7.6 (2016): 450-454.
  5. NIH-funded research suggests human vaccine is possible- Larocca, Rafael A., et al. “Vaccine protection against Zika virus from Brazil.” Nature (2016).
  6. Itchy inflammation of mosquito bite helps rapid virus replication- Pingen, Marieke, et al. “Host Inflammatory Response to Mosquito Bites Enhances the Severity of Arbovirus Infection.” Immunity 44.6 (2016): 1455-1469.
  7. A portable test that rapidly detects Zika in saliva for $2- Song, Jinzhao, et al. “Instrument-Free Point-of-Care Molecular Detection of Zika Virus.” Analytical Chemistry (2016).
  8. Bacteria can block mosquitoes from transmitting Zika virus- Aliota, Matthew T., et al. “The wMel strain of Wolbachia Reduces Transmission of Zika virus by Aedes aegypti.” Scientific Reports 6 (2016).

Overview References:

  1. World Health Organization (WHO) – Zika Virus
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Zika Virus
  1. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) – Zika virus infection

(Music: Acoustic Breeze – Bensound.com)


– Dr. Mohammed T Ahmed 

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