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NBRC researchers decipher how Zika virus causes microcephaly

Published on August 02, 2018
Scientists from National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) have successfully identified the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which Zika virus causes microcephaly.
NBRC researches decipher Zika virus causes microcephaly
Babies born with microcephaly have significantly smaller head size compared with normal babies.

What did the researchers find?

  • The researchers found the envelop protein (E protein) of Zika virus, which is responsible for entry of virus into the brain stem cells and responsible for arresting proliferation of human foetal neural stem cells and also killing cells that were becoming neuron-like.
  • The combined effect reduces the pool of foetal brain cells leading to smaller size of the brain.
  • The study shows that neutralising E protein of Zika virus can help prevent or reduce its harmful effects in developing foetus.
  • The E protein can be seen as a likely therapeutic target.
  • The E protein in Zika virus is mutated and very different from the envelop protein of other flavi viruses such as dengue, yellow fever, west nilevirus, and Japanese encephalitis.
  • It was found to be more potent in arresting the proliferation of brain stem cells.
  • The other three envelop proteins were acting in less significant manner.

About Zika virus:

  • Zika virus is a vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which also transmits dengue.
  • It can also spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact.
  • It is capable of causing serious birth defects i.e. neurological disorders and foetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads.
  • Besides, a possible link between the virus and Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system) is also suspected. 
  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to treat Zika.
  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.


Q. Scientists from which organization have successfully identified the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which Zika virus causes microcephaly?
a. National Spine Research Centre (NSRC)
b. National Brain Research Centre (NBRC)
c. National Nerve Research Centre (NNRC)
d. None of the above

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