Protein May Help In Fight Against West Nile, Zika Virus

Mosquito-borne diseases such as the West Nile and Zika viruses have been a cause of constant concern among many places around the world. These viruses can cause health problems and even death among those who are infected.

These diseases have been a constant cause of concern every year in the US. With rising cases being reported on a seasonal basis, it is unfortunate that there are still no antiviral treatments available to effectively halt the infection. But more and more researchers are joining forces in order to find effective ways to confront and halt the viral outbreaks. A recent study is showing promise that an effective treatment for the Zika and the West Nile virus may be on the horizon.

Researchers from Georgia State University in Atlanta looked to find out about the biological mechanisms that might help find an effective therapy against viruses such as Zika and West Nile. The researchers focused on studying the Z-DNA binding protein 1 or ZBP1. This protein is involved in the way the immune system responds against viruses.

The researcher observed from mice models infected with the West Nile or Zika virus that ZBP1 seem to restrict the replication of viruses, preventing them from spreading. The protein also seems to prevent mice infected with severe forms of the West Nile virus from developing encephalitis. On the other hand, the researchers also observed that mice engineered not to produce ZBP1 led to infected mice to die even with strains of West Nile virus that did not infect the brain.

According to Mukesh Kumar, a senior author of the said study, “It’s significant because you take a virus that has never been shown to kill anything and if you block this protein the virus will just kill everything.”

“We discovered that when cells are infected with viruses such as Zika and West Nile, they respond by triggering necroptosis, a form of programmed cell death, via ZBP1 signaling. This inhibits viral replication and spread, allowing the immune system to clear the virus,” he further added.

In light of the results of the study, the researchers hope to find a way to increase ZBP1 expression, which may provide a potential weapon against West Nile and Zika viruses. The findings of the study is featured in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Source: Medical News Today

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