- In a first comprehensive description of the Zika virus genome, scientists have identified seven key proteins that may make the virus so deadly.
- Over the past year, scientists have learned that it can cause a range of dangerous health problems, including birth defects such as microcephaly and neurological problems such as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
- However, they did not know which Zika protein or proteins are causing harm, or exactly how these proteins cause damage.
- The study is the first comprehensive description of the Zika virus genome.
- “The mechanism of this virus has been a real mystery,” said the lead researcher on the study.
- These results give us crucial insight into how Zika affects cells.
- Zika virus has infected hundreds of thousands of people around the world, mostly in the Americas. In the U.S. and its territories, more than 38,000 Zika cases have been reported so far, most of them in Puerto Rico. There are no vaccines or treatments to prevent or treat the symptoms of Zika infection.
- To test the virus, Mr. Zhao used fission yeast, a species that in recent years has become a relatively common way to test how pathogens affect cells.
Fission yeast used
- Fission yeast was originally used to make beer, particularly in Africa, where it originated. Over decades, fission yeast has been used by many scientists to find out mechanisms and behaviour of cells.