Around 390 million people are infected with dengue virus every year, causing 96 million cases of dengue. Many of these infections are relatively mild, but around half a million people end up in hospital with a life-threatening infection that makes their blood vessels start leaking. It’s known that a virus protein called NS1 is responsible for the leaks, but it's not clear exactly what it's doing. By studying mice infected with dengue, scientists have discovered that NS1 attacks the delicate lining inside blood vessels: the image on the left show blue dye leaking out of blood vessels under the skin in response to injections with NS1 (bottom left and right), compared with salt water (top left) or a chemical called VEGF that makes vessels leaky (top right). On the right, the same experiment has been repeated with fluorescent dye. These findings could lead to life-saving treatments for severe dengue infections.
Written by Kat Arney
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