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Top 5 Contagion® News Articles for the Week of September 3, 2017


#5: Zika Virus Exploits Pregnant Women's Immune Systems to Infect & Replicate

New research from the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California (USC) has found that the Zika virus—known for causing devastating birth defects such as microcephaly in newborns—targets specific white blood cells to suppress pregnant women’s immune systems, which allows it to spread.

The virus works to “handicap” the immune system in a way comparable to HIV, senior study author Jae Jung, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine, noted in a recent press release.

“Pregnant women are more susceptible to the Zika virus because pregnancy naturally suppresses a woman’s immune system so her body doesn’t reject the fetus—essentially it’s a foreign object,” Dr. Jung explained. “Our study shows pregnant women are more prone to immune suppression. Zika exploits that weakness to infect and replicate.”

Read more about how the Zika virus exploits pregnant women’s immune systems, here.

#4: Researchers Create Innovative Approach to Identifying Zika Virus

International researchers have created a new test able to quickly and cost-effectively identify Zika virus infection up to 9 months’ post-exposure.

The new test examines proteins and peptides in saliva using proteomics, the study of proteomes and their functions. According to a press release on the research, published in the Journal of Dental Research, this is the first time proteomics has been used in this way “to accurately detect exposure to the Zika virus.”

For the study, the researchers looked at 3-month postnatal saliva samples from a 25-year-old women, “clinically diagnosed with Zika fever in the first trimester,” according to the study, and her dizygotic twins. (The mother had been infected with Zika 9 months prior.) The male twin was born healthy, while the female twin was born with microcephaly.

Continue reading about this new approach to identify the Zika virus, here.

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