Structure Of Zika Virus Revealed For The First Time

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The structure of Zika virus has finally been decoded. A team of researchers from the Purdue University have become the first in the world to figure out the structural characteristics of the potentially deadly virus. The critical findings related to the structure of Zika virus are expected to help researchers develop an effective treatment strategy and vaccine against the virus. Zika virus belongs to a family of viruses called flaviviruses. The group also includes other viruses like yellow fever, West Nile, Japanese encephalitis and dengue. The research team has specifically identified the regions of the Zika virus structure that differ from other viruses belonging to the same group. WHO Needs More Funds To Prepare For The Worst Of Zika Lead researcher of the study Richard Kuhn says that the unique structural regions within the virus have potential to explain how the viral transmission takes place and how Zika manifests as a disease.Like us on Facebook “The structure of the virus provides a map that shows potential regions of the virus that could be targeted by a therapeutic treatment, used to create an effective vaccine or to improve our ability to diagnose and distinguish Zika infection from that of other related viruses,” said Kuhn, in a press statement. The researcher further said that determining the structure will enhance the team’s understanding of the virus about which only a little is known till to date. The research team used cryo-electron microscopy to determine the structure of the virus at a resolution that could only be achieved through X-ray crystallography. Electron microscopy allows the virus to be viewed in its native state. The latter technique requires a large amount of virus and is a relatively difficult process to carry out, despite being the only technique used since the 1950s to study the structure of the virus. Using electron microscopy, the team found that the structure of Zika virus was similar to that of other flaviviruses. Such flaviviruses possess an RNA genome inside an icosahedral protein shell and surrounded by a lipid or fatty membrane. Photo Sources: Flickr, Flickr