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Zika Virus Now Has a Face [Video]

Apr 04, 2016 06:37 AM EDT
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Representation of the Surface of the Zika Virus
A representation of the surface of the Zika virus with protruding envelope glycoproteins (red) shown.
(Photo : Kuhn and Rossmann research groups, Purdue University [http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/112158.php])

Researchers now expect to slowly gain a better understanding of the Zika virus, as they unveil the face of the dreadful disease.

Science News described the new microscopy images of the virus as "bump, golf ball-shaped structure," similar to the dengue and West Nile viruses.

The study, published in the journal Science, used a strain of Zika that was collected from a patient during 2013 to 2014 outbreak in French Polynesia.

 

Using a technique called cryoelectron microscopy, the researchers created a composite high-resolution, three-dimensional view of the virus.

Researchers discovered that the structure of Zika virus is very similar to other flaviviruses.

The only difference found by the researchers can be seen in the region of the E (envelope) glycoprotein, used by flaviviruses to attach the human skin.

This distinction plays a crucial role in the ability of the Zika virus to attach itself and attack nerve cells.

According to the press release of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, researchers have taken a huge step forward in the fight against Zika by just knowing the face of their enemy.

The newly produced structure of the virus can help the development of vaccines and other treatments, such as anti-viral drugs or antibodies that can interfere with E glycoprotein function.

Information about the structural differences of the E glycoprotein in Zika and the same protein in dengue could help in the development of a diagnostic tool that can distinguish the virus from one another.

The Zika virus has taken the world by surprise with its sudden outbreak in South America.

Due to its ability to cause birth defects and an autoimmune-neurological syndrome, Zika has generated a worldwide concern.

On February, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

In the United States, there are 312 reported travel-associated Zika virus cases, while there is still no report of locally-acquired Zika virus case in all the states, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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