New Image of Zika Virus May Help in Breakthrough to Combat Disease
Knowing the virus in such detail may help researchers in the development of vaccines and treatment for Zika.
In a breakthrough, scientists have captured the most accurate and detailed image of the Zika virus till date. The virus was discovered in 1947 but Zika created a global health crisis in the last few years and has been spreading since.
These findings could aid researchers in the development of effective vaccines and treatment for Zika.
The research, done by scientists at Purdue University and published in the journal Structure, combined tens of thousands of two-dimensional images to construct a three-dimensional model of the virus’s structure.
One of the authors of the study and microbiologist Michael Rossmann explains:
This is the most accurate picture we have of the virus so far. These results will give us ways to efficiently design antiviral compounds and provide a basis for structure-based vaccine design.
Knowing the virus in such detail may help researchers find pockets on its surface where the drug molecules could attach.
There are vaccine options that have been developed for Zika but right now they can’t be fully tested on humans because of a decline in infections, reports The New York Times. And experts aren’t sure about testing the vaccine on healthy people.
So, the study’s findings may not have an immediate impact on preventing the disease. But these new findings are relevant since this is the closest anyone has gotten to visualising the virus. And understanding the virus is vital to combat it.
Zika is a flavivirus, a family that includes dengue and Japanese encephalitis, which are also transmitted by mosquitoes.
Lead author of the study, Madhumati Sevvana, says:
At a lower resolution, many of these viruses just look like matching spherical balls. Once you zoom in, you start to see the differences in their landscapes.
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