Chi­nese sci­en­tists con­firm Zika, mi­cro­cephaly link

Fiji Sun - - World News - Jy­otip@fi­

Beijing: Chi­nese sci­en­tists on an­nounced the first di­rect ev­i­dence link­ing the Zika virus to mi­cro­cephaly in mice ex­per­i­ments. Mi­cro­cephaly is a med­i­cal con­di­tion in which ab­nor­mal brain de­vel­op­ment of a fe­tus or in­fant re­sults in a head that is smaller than nor­mal. A dra­matic rise in mi­cro­cephaly cases among new­borns was dis­cov­ered in Brazil and else­where as the Zika virus spread wildly in those re­gions. In most cases, moth­ers of ba­bies with mi­cro­cephaly had been in­fected with the Zika virus.

Sci­en­tists had sus­pected a close link be­tween Zika in­fec­tion and mi­cro­cephaly, but didn’t have any di­rect proof to con­firm. The new dis­cov­ery was made in a col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search project con­ducted by teams led by Xu Zhi­heng at the In­sti­tute of Ge­net­ics and De­vel­op­men­tal Bi­ol­ogy of the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences and Qin Chengfeng with the In­sti­tute of Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and Epi­demi­ol­ogy un­der the Acad­emy of Mil­i­tary Med­i­cal Sciences.

Sci­en­tists in­jected the Zika virus strain, which was iso­lated from a Chi­nese pa­tient, into fe­tal mouse brains. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Xu, the Zika virus repli­cated quickly in the brains of the fe­tal mice and in­fected neu­ral stem cells, caus­ing ab­nor­mal pro­lif­er­a­tion and dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of neu­ral stem cells and neu­ron death. The mice car­ried to term dis­played the char­ac­ter­is­tic fea­tures of mi­cro­cephaly and were found to have ge­netic ab­nor­mal­i­ties.

The Chi­nese sci­en­tists’ re­search pro­vided the first an­i­mal model for study­ing the Zika virus. Its find­ings were pub­lished on­line in the jour­nal “Cell Stem Cell” on Thurs­day. “We hope the model can be used in drug and vaccine tests, help­ing with the pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of Zika in­fec­tion,” said Mr Qin. Xin­hua

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