Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Zika Structure Revealed
15 April 2016

Zika Structure Revealed

In February, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of Zika virus infections in Brazil and other South and Central American countries to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. That was because of fears, confirmed just this week, that the virus causes microcephaly – the incomplete development of the head and brain – in babies born to mothers who suffered Zika infections during pregnancy. Strong evidence also exists that the virus, which spreads via mosquito bites, can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome – an autoimmune disorder that can lead to paralysis. Scientists are now hunting for ways to combat this dangerous pathogen, and recently they made an important initial step toward that goal: they determined its structure (pictured). Armed with this knowledge, researchers have a much better chance of designing effective antibodies or small molecules that could inhibit the virus, as well as developing an effective vaccine.

Written by Ruth Williams

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