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Tianjin University Solves the Structure of the Zika Virus

 

Tianjin University's research team led by Professor Yang Haitao of the School of Life Sciences solved the structure of the Zika virus helicase, which is a key target for antiviral development.

The Zika virus is spread mainly through the bite of a tropical mosquito called Aedes aegypti. In February, 2016, The World Health Organization said that the Zika virus had spread to 33 countries and territories. However, there are currently no effective vaccines or therapies available to contain ZIKV infection. The World Health Organization has declared a "public health emergency of international concern" over the Zika virus because of how fast the mosquito-borne virus is spreading and its link to an alarming spike in babies born with abnormally small heads – a condition called microcephaly – in Brazil and French Polynesia. According to Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.

Helicase is essential for almost all viral replication. The Zika virus helicase can convert energy from nucleoside triphosphate to unwind double stranded nucleic acids, which is an essential step for viral replication. By targeting Zika virus helicase with small-molecule inhibitors, it might be possible to stop viral replication and prevent the Zika virus disease.

Tianjin University’s research team has successfully obtained an image at 1.8 angstroms of the Zika virus helicase. An angstrom is one ten-billionth (10-10) of a meter. This high-resolution image of the Zika virus key enzyme will help scientists develop drugs to treat the Zika virus disease. The research is published in journal Protein & Cell.

The story has been published on ANI News (http://www.aninews.in/newsdetail10/story265128/zika-virus-mystery-cracked.html).

 

 

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