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  • News

    A mutation may explain the sudden rise in birth defects from Zika

    A single genetic mutation made the Zika virus far more dangerous by enhancing its ability to kill nerve cells in developing brains, a new study suggests.

    The small change — which tweaks just one amino acid in a protein that helps Zika exit cells — may cause microcephaly, researchers report September 28 in Science. The mutation arose around May 2013, shortly before a Zika outbreak in...

    09/28/2017 - 14:00 Genetics, Microbiology, Health
  • News

    Zika could one day help combat deadly brain cancer

    Zika’s damaging neurological effects might someday be enlisted for good — to treat brain cancer.

    In human cells and in mice, the virus infected and killed the stem cells that become a glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, but left healthy brain cells alone. Jeremy Rich, a regenerative medicine scientist at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues report the findings...

    09/05/2017 - 16:54 Cancer, Biomedicine, Immune Science
  • Science Ticker

    Certain birth defects are on the rise since Zika arrived in the U.S.

    Certain birth defects were 20 times more prevalent in babies born to Zika virus–infected mothers in the U.S. in 2016 than they were before the virus cropped up in the United States, a CDC study suggests. The finding strengthens the evidence that a mother’s Zika infection during pregnancy raises her baby’s risk of microcephaly and other brain malformations.  

    The study, published March 3...

    03/02/2017 - 17:36 Health
  • Science Ticker

    See how long Zika lasts in semen and other bodily fluids

    Traces of Zika virus typically linger in semen no longer than three months after symptoms show up, a new study on the virus’ staying power in bodily fluids reveals.

    Medical epidemiologist Gabriela Paz-Bailey of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and colleagues analyzed the bodily fluids — including blood, urine and saliva — of 150 people infected with Zika. In 95 percent...

    02/14/2017 - 17:03 Health
  • Science Visualized

    Map of Zika virus reveals how it shifts as it matures

    Before an immature Zika virus becomes infectious, it does some major remodeling.

    In a fledgling virus particle, the inner protein and RNA core (shown in dark blue above, right) forms bridges to the membrane layer that surrounds it. As the virus matures, the core shuffles around and the bridges melt away (below, right).

    It’s the first time scientists have seen such rearrangement in...

    01/31/2017 - 07:00 Microbiology, Health
  • Feature

    Year in review: Zika virus devastates Brazil and spreads fear across Americas

    A Brazilian mother cradles her baby girl under a bruised purple sky. The baby’s face is scrunched up, mouth open wide — like any other crying child. But her head is smaller than normal, as if her skull has collapsed above her eyebrows.

    A week earlier, not far away, a doctor wrapped a measuring tape around the forehead of a 1-month-old boy, held in the arms of his grandmother. This baby...

    12/14/2016 - 07:40 Health, Human Development
  • Science Ticker

    Cell biologists learn how Zika kills brain cells, devise schemes to stop it

    SAN FRANCISCO — Cell biologists are learning more about how the Zika virus disrupts brain cells to cause the birth defect microcephaly, in which a baby’s brain and head are smaller than usual. Meantime, several strategies to combat the virus show preliminary promise, researchers reported at the American Society for Cell Biology’s annual meeting. Among the findings:

    Brain cell die-off

    Zika...

    12/13/2016 - 16:17 Cells, Health, Microbiology
  • Science Ticker

    Microcephaly cases surge in Colombia following rise in Zika infections

    In 2016, Colombia saw a surge in babies with microcephaly — more than four times the number reported in the previous year.

    The country documented 476 cases of the debilitating birth defect from January 31 to November 12, researchers note December 9 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the same time period in 2015,...

    12/09/2016 - 17:18 Health
  • Science Ticker

    This week in Zika: Vaginal vulnerability, disease double trouble and more

    A glut of Zika cases in Puerto Rico suggests that the virus has a preferred victim: women.

    It’s an idea that has come up before, in previous reports from Brazil and El Salvador. But a new analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds some heft to the story. Of nearly 30,000 Zika cases in Puerto Rico from November 2015 to October 2016, 63 percent were female, the...

    11/17/2016 - 12:30 Health, Microbiology
  • Science Ticker

    Antibody protects against Zika virus in tests in mice

    The battle against Zika may have some new firepower. A single dose of a human antibody called ZIKV-117 can protect mice from death after Zika infection — and shield mouse fetuses from the virus’s damaging effects, researchers report November 7 in Nature. 

    In humans, Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to a suite of birth defects including a condition known as...

    11/07/2016 - 15:47 Health