“High Profile Diseases” are written by individual NPRC Core Scientists who are experts in the specific subject of each article. Before publication on the website, each article is reviewed by representatives of all seven NPRCs.
Eliza Bliss-Moreau and Koen Van Rompay (CNPRC), David O'Connor (WNPRC)
The NPRCs are at the forefront of research urgently needed to understand Zika virus, to help develop vaccines for it, and especially to prevent pregnant mothers from transmitting it to their unborn children.
The rapidly spreading mosquito-borne virus is strongly linked to fetal abnormalities including a neurological birth disorder called microcephaly, which results in smallness of the head, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development. Babies born with microcephaly have a limited life expectancy and poor brain function.
Transmitted through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito – the same insect that transmits Dengue – Zika has now spread to more than 20 countries in the Americas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women not to travel to affected areas. Health officials in several affected areas are advising women to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases for up to two years.
The Zika outbreak is a pandemic in progress, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (1).
The virus is mild for most people who acquire it, causing a fever, headache, rash and perhaps pink eye. The danger to pregnant mothers is the urgent concern and the main reason for the travel advisories. The virus may pass through the placenta to a growing fetus. This does not happen with the Dengue, West Nile or chikungunya viruses. Zika has been found in breast milk, but it has not yet been confirmed whether it can be passed to an infant through nursing. Immune-compromised people may also be at a higher risk of more serious illness. Zika virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact (2).
The centers have strong research programs in global infectious diseases and experience researching Dengue, HIV, Ebola, malaria, Lyme disease, chikungunya, influenza and more.
There is an urgent need for researchers to understand the pathogenesis of Zika virus infection and especially how the virus affects the fetus and causes microcephaly. This information can then be used to help develop an effective vaccine or treatment for women, so doctors can prevent more birth defects and infant deaths.
A unique aspect of the NPRCs’ Zika research is that NPRC scientists are publishing online lab notebooks for anyone to see, rather than waiting to publish their data first in a scientific journal. (Please see the Live Research Updates section below). On Feb. 10, major government funding agencies and scientific journals released a statement supporting open-data sharing during public-health emergencies such as Zika. “In the context of a public-health emergency of international concern, there is an imperative on all parties to make any information available that might have value in combatting the crisis,” the statement read.
There are currently 32 publications available for Zika virus.
Aliota MT, Dudley DM, Newman CM, Weger-Lucarelli J, Stewart LM, Koenig MR, Breitbach ME, Weiler AM, Semler MR, Barry GL, Zarbock KR, Haj AK, Moriarty RV, Mohns MS, Mohr EL, Venturi V, Schultz-Darken N, Peterson E, Newton W, Schotzko ML, Simmons HA, Mejia A, Hayes JM, Capuano S, Davenport MP, Friedrich TC, Ebel GD, O'Connor SL, O'Connor DH
Molecularly barcoded Zika virus libraries to probe in vivo evolutionary dynamics.
PLoS Pathog. 2018 Mar; 14(3): e1006964.
Hirsch AJ, Roberts VHJ, Grigsby PL, Haese N, Schabel MC, Wang X, Lo JO, Liu Z, Kroenke CD, Smith JL, Kelleher M, Broeckel R, Kreklywich CN, Parkins CJ, Denton M, Smith P, DeFilippis V, Messer W, Nelson JA, Hennebold JD, Grafe M, Colgin L, Lewis A, Ducore R, Swanson T, Legasse AW, Axthelm MK, MacAllister R, Moses AV, Morgan TK, Frias AE, Streblow DN
Zika virus infection in pregnant rhesus macaques causes placental dysfunction and immunopathology.
Nat Commun 2018 01; 9(1): 263.
Magnani DM, Rogers TF, Maness NJ, Grubaugh ND, Beutler N, Bailey VK, Gonzalez-Nieto L, Gutman MJ, Pedreño-Lopez N, Kwal JM, Ricciardi MJ, Myers TA, Julander JG, Bohm RP, Gilbert MH, Schiro F, Aye PP, Blair RV, Martins MA, Falkenstein KP, Kaur A, Curry CL, Kallas EG, Desrosiers RC, Goldschmidt-Clermont PJ, Whitehead SS, Andersen KG, Bonaldo MC, Lackner AA, Panganiban AT, Burton DR, Watkins DI
Fetal demise and failed antibody therapy during Zika virus infection of pregnant macaques.
Nat Commun 2018 Apr; 9(1): 1624.
Martinot AJ, Abbink P, Afacan O, Prohl AK, Bronson R, Hecht JL, Borducchi EN, Larocca RA, Peterson RL, Rinaldi W, Ferguson M, Didier PJ, Weiss D, Lewis MG, De La Barrera RA, Yang E, Warfield SK, Barouch DH
Fetal Neuropathology in Zika Virus-Infected Pregnant Female Rhesus Monkeys.
Cell 2018 Mar; (): .
Mavigner M, Raper J, Kovacs-Balint Z, Gumber S, O'Neal JT, Bhaumik SK, Zhang X, Habib J, Mattingly C, McDonald CE, Avanzato V, Burke MW, Magnani DM, Bailey VK, Watkins DI, Vanderford TH, Fair D, Earl E, Feczko E, Styner M, Jean SM, Cohen JK, Silvestri G, Johnson RP, O'Connor DH, Wrammert J, Suthar MS, Sanchez MM, Alvarado MC, Chahroudi A
Postnatal Zika virus infection is associated with persistent abnormalities in brain structure, function, and behavior in infant macaques.
Sci Transl Med 2018 Apr; 10(435): .
February 27, 2018
“Z” is for Zika – TXBiobytes Podcast Episode 003
OUTBREAK: ZIKA RISING
December 13, 2017
Monkeys infected by mosquito bites further Zika virus research
September 20, 2017
Zika Virus Research Projects
May 12, 2017
Formidable Flying Foe
March 9, 2017
Zika Attacks Nerves, Muscles, Other Tissues
October 13, 2016
Zika Vaccine Research Wins WARF Innovation Award
September 27, 2016
Fox 40 Talks Zika With Dr. Koen Van Rompay
September 12, 2016
Louisiana researchers at Tulane, LSU part of efforts to fight Zika
September 12, 2016
Seattle scientists first to show monkey model of Zika damage
August 15, 2016
Studying the Zika virus in rhesus macaques
August 11, 2016
Combating Zika Virus
July 28, 2016
UW-Madison: A world leader in Zika virus research
July 25, 2016
Researchers 'solve' key Zika virus protein structure
July 18, 2016
Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web
June 29, 2016
Can you get Zika twice? Or are you immune?
June 28, 2016
New Studies Show Just How Tricky the Zika Virus Is
March 19, 2016
Taking the online medicine
February 26, 2016
Zika virus: The benefits of open research
February 24, 2016
US Scientists Investigate Zika Spread
February 18, 2016
Monkey study to show whether Zika really causes birth defects
February 18, 2016
Zika Virus in the Americas — Yet Another Arbovirus Threat
February 16, 2016
UC Davis Primate Researchers Key on Zika Virus
February 16, 2016
Understanding Zika Virus with Nonhuman Primates