From Penn State News
January 14, 2019
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A cellular protein that interacts with invading viruses appears to help enable the infection process of the Zika virus, according to an international team of researchers who suggest this protein could be a key target in developing new therapies to prevent or treat Zika virus infection.
Scientists first isolated Zika, a member of the Flaviviridae family of viruses — which also includes yellow fever, dengue and West Nile viruses — in 1947 and, until recently, it typically caused only mild symptoms in humans. However, health officials first recorded larger outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus in 2007, culminating in a large epidemic in the Western Hemisphere in 2015-2016. For the first time, Zika infection also was associated with severe symptoms, including microcephaly in infants infected in the womb, and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults.
These acute symptoms and the rapid spread of the virus prompted the World Health Organization to declare Zika a public health emergency of international concern and stimulated interest among scientists in the factors governing Zika infection, about which little is known.