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June 12, 2016: Scientists Find Zika Virus Goes Directly to The Brain

Science Alerts reports that “Scientists have finally figured out what Zika virus does to the human body, and it explains why its effects can be so devastating, but infections can go for months without detection.

“A new study has shown that not only does it go straight for the brain’s progenitor cells, blocking around 20 percent of them from forming new neurons, but it does so without alerting the body’s immune system, so can go on replicating in the brain for weeks.

“The good news is that, by better understanding how Zika is so successful in spreading throughout the human body, scientists from the University of Texas Medical Centre have found a way to combat it.

“A tiny protein called interferon-induced protein 3 (IFITM3), which is naturally produced in the body, has been shown to reduce Zika’s ability to infect brain cells in both humans and mice, and can even prevent the cell die-off associated with the virus.

“’This work represents the first look at how our cells defend themselves against Zika virus’ attack,’ says one of the team, Abraham Brass. ‘Our results show that Zika virus has a weakness that we could potentially exploit to prevent or stop infection.’”

Source: Science Alert

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