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UMass Medical School Identifies Human Protein Vital for Zika Replication

Author: Mosquito Squad of Franklin & Framingham

With so many great schools and institutions in Massachusetts, it is no surprise to learn one is on the front lines of important Zika Virus research.

The lab at the UMass Medical School is breaking ground in Zika Virus research. While there is a lot of different tactics to take in attempting to find treatments and vaccines for the Zika virus, UMass has been working on interrupting Zika virus replication. Replication of the virus is what allows it to infect the human body and cause the varying degree of symptoms. This replication is vital to the virus surviving.

UMASS IDENTIFIES PROTEIN VITAL FOR ZIKA REPLICATION

The team at UMass, led by Dr. Abraham Brass, MD, Ph.D., has been working on a system and infrastructure for investigating the genetics to find the protein that allows viral pathogens to use human cells for replication. They’ve been working on this system for four year using other viruses. This work has allowed them to dig deeply and quickly into the biology of the Zika virus to discover the human proteins that it needs for this replication process.

YEARS OF PREPARATION RESULTS IN FAST FINDINGS

Within a few short months with support from the NIH and an award from the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation they’ve been able to identify multiple proteins out of the more than 20,000 available human proteins that are critical for Zika infection and replication. Their goal was to find the proteins fast and share the data with the rest of the research community for expedited processing. With more eyes on the data, finding a way to interrupt this process will be that much quicker. The next step is to use these findings to develop treatments and potential vaccines.

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