“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.
Recent NPRC Publications
Block LN, Aliota MT, Friedrich TC, Schotzko ML, Mean KD, Wiepz GJ, Golos TG, Schmidt JK
Embryotoxic impact of Zika virus in a rhesus macaque in vitro implantation model.
Biol Reprod. 2020 Jan 4. pii: 5695513. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioz236. 2020.
Haese N, Hirsch AJ, Streblow DN
Isolation and Detection of Zika Virus-Infected Rhesus Macaques Lymph Node Cellsand Splenocytes.
Methods Mol Biol. 2020;2142:197-213. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0581-3_16. 2020.
Jaeger AS, Weiler AM, Moriarty RV, Rybarczyk S, O'Connor SL, O'Connor DH, Seelig DM, Fritsch MK, Friedrich TC, Aliota MT
Spondweni virus causes fetal harm in Ifnar1(-/-) mice and is transmitted by Aedesaegypti mosquitoes.
Virology. 2020 Aug;547:35-46. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2020.05.005. Epub 2020 May 24. 2020.
Lim SY, Osuna CE, Best K, Taylor R, Chen E, Yoon G, Kublin JL, Schalk D, Schultz-Darken N, Capuano S, Safronetz D, Luo M, MacLennan S, Mathis A, Babu YS, Sheridan WP, Perelson AS, Whitney JB
A direct-acting antiviral drug abrogates viremia in Zika virus-infected rhesusmacaques.
Sci Transl Med. 2020 Jun 10;12(547). pii: 12/547/eaau9135. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aau9135. 2020.
Panganiban AT, Blair RV, Hattler JB, Bohannon DG, Bonaldo MC, Schouest B, Maness NJ, Kim WK
A Zika Virus Primary Isolate Induces Neuroinflammation, Compromises theBlood-Brain Barrier, and Upregulates CXCL12 in Adult Macaques.
Brain Pathol. 2020 Jun 25. doi: 10.1111/bpa.12873. 2020.
October 23, 2018
All About Zika: The Challenges, the Vaccine, and Pregnancy
July 20, 2018
It Takes a Village to Tackle Zika
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