Antibiotic may help stop Zika from damaging fetal brains: Study
US researchers said on Tuesday they have identified fetal brain tissue cells that are targeted by the Zika virus and determined that azithromycin, a common antibiotic regarded as safe for use during pregnancy, can block this infection, at least in brain cells grown in lab dishes.
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) reported that the Zika virus preferentially infects brain cells with an abundance of a protein called AXL, which spans the outer cell membrane of several cell types and serves as a gateway for the invading virus.
The fetal brain cells that incorporate this protein included neural stem cells and progenitor cells that eventually form other types of brain cells and that play an especially crucial role in early brain growth and development. Other cells with AXL included microglia, which are the brain’s immune cells, and astrocytes, a fully developed and specialised type of brain cell that serves to support the signal-conducting neurons. Xinhua