Saturday November 18, 2017

Indian Origin Scientist Part of the team that Developed Nanotechnology-based Test that quickly Detects Zika Virus

When a drop of the patient's blood is applied on the paper mounted on the nanorods, the immunoglobulins in the blood will react with the protein if the patient has come into contact with the virus and demonstrate a colour change

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Test that quickly discovers Zika virus
Transmission Electron Micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus. Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientists have developed a nanotechnology based test that can quickly detect the presence of the Zika virus in the blood
  • The new test relies on a protein made by the Zika virus
  • The test is very quick as the results would be declared before the patient even leaves the clinic

New Delhi, August 13, 2017: Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a nanotechnology-based test that can quickly detect the presence of the Zika virus in the blood, an advance that may also be applicable to other emerging infectious diseases.

Currently, testing for Zika requires that a blood sample be refrigerated and shipped to a medical centre or laboratory, delaying diagnosis and possible treatment for Zika virus.

The new test, however, relies on a protein made by the Zika virus that causes an immune response in infected individuals, which is then attached to tiny gold nanorods mounted on a piece of paper.

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The paper then is completely covered with tiny, protective nanocrystals. The nanocrystals allow the diagnostic nanorods to be shipped and stored without refrigeration prior to use, the researchers said.

“If an assay requires electricity and refrigeration, it defeats the purpose of developing something to use in a resource-limited setting, especially in tropical areas of the world,” said Srikanth Singamaneni, Associate Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.

“We wanted to make the test immune from variations in temperature and humidity,” Singamaneni added.

When a drop of the patient’s blood is applied on the paper mounted on the nanorods, the immunoglobulins in the blood will react with the protein if the patient has come into contact with the virus and demonstrate a colour change.

“The immunoglobulins persist in the blood for a few months, and when they come into contact with the gold nanorods, the nanorods undergo a slight colour change that can be detected with a hand-held spectrophotometer,” explained Jeremiah J. Morrissey, Professor at the varsity.

Also read: Zika Virus Infection may cause lasting Eye Diseases, also posing a wider Threat in Human pregnancies: Study

“With this test, results will be clear before the patient leaves the clinic, allowing immediate counselling and access to treatment,” he added in the paper detailed in the journal Advanced Biosystems.

As other infectious diseases emerge around the world, similar strategies potentially could be used to develop tests to detect the presence of viruses that may become problematic, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Anti-dengue Antibody Drug May Neutralize Zika Virus

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Zika
Test for Zika more than once during pregnancy: Study

Washington, Sep 26: An anti-dengue antibody-based drug could potentially protect a mother and her foetus from the deadly Zika virus as well, suggests new research.

In experiments with mice, the researchers found that an antibody that protects against dengue virus is also effective against Zika.

“We found that this antibody not only neutralises the dengue virus but, in mice, protects both adults and foetuses from Zika disease,” said Michael Diamond, Professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and senior author of the study published in the journal Nature Immunology.

Antibodies remain in the bloodstream for weeks, so one or a few doses of an antibody-based drug given over the course of a woman’s pregnancy potentially could protect her foetus from Zika, with the added benefit of protecting her from both Zika and dengue disease, the researchers said.

Dengue causes high fever, severe headaches, and joint and muscle pain in children and adults but does not directly harm foetuses.

Since dengue and Zika are related viruses, the researchers reasoned that an antibody that prevents dengue disease may do the same for Zika.

In collaboration with Gavin Screaton of Imperial College London, who had generated a panel of human anti-dengue antibodies years before, the scientists infected nonpregnant adult mice with Zika virus and then administered one of the anti-dengue antibodies one, three or five days after infection.

For comparison, another group of mice was infected with Zika virus and then given a placebo.

Within three weeks of infection, more than 80 per cent of the untreated mice had died, whereas all of the mice that received the anti-dengue antibody within three days of infection were still alive, and 40 per cent of those that received the antibody five days after infection survived.

To find out whether the antibody also could protect foetuses from infection, the researchers infected female mice on the sixth day of their pregnancies with Zika virus and then administered a dose of antibody or a placebo one or three days later.

On the 13th day of gestation, the amount of Zika’s genetic material were significantly lower in the placentas and in the foetal heads from the pregnant mice that were treated one day after infection, compared with mice that received the placebo.

However, administering the antibody three days after infection was less effective, the findings showed.

These findings suggest that for the antibody to effectively protect foetuses from Zika infection, it must be administered soon after infection.

Such a goal may be unrealistic clinically because women rarely know when they get infected.

However, giving women the antibody as soon as they know they are pregnant could provide them with a ready-made defence against the virus should they encounter it.

“We mutated the antibody so that it could not cause antibody enhancement of dengue infection, and it was still protective,” said Diamond.

“So now we have a version of the antibody that would be therapeutic against both viruses and safe for use in a dengue-endemic area because it is unable to worsen disease,” Diamond added.(IANS)

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Zika Virus Infection may cause lasting Eye Diseases, also posing a wider Threat in Human pregnancies: Study

Studying Zika infection in monkeys may help follow the progress of the mosquito-transmitted infection and associated health problems in humans

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New York, May 26, 2017: Zika virus infection may cause lasting eye diseases and may be thus posing a wider threat in human pregnancies than previously thought, scientists have found.

The study, conducted on rhesus monkeys, showed that although the foetus affected with Zika virus did not show its typical symptoms such as shrunken heads or microcephaly, unusual inflammation in the foetal eyes, in the retinas and optic nerves, in pregnancies infected were observed.

“Our eyes are basically part of our central nervous system. The optic nerve grows right out from the foetal brain during pregnancy,” said Kathleen Antony, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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“It makes some sense to see this damage in the monkeys and in human pregnancy — problems such as chorioretinal atrophy or microphthalmia in which the whole eye or parts of the eye just don’t grow to the expected size,” she added.

In the study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, the team infected four pregnant rhesus macaque monkeys with a Zika virus dose similar to what would be transferred by a mosquito bite.

The findings revealed that the virus was present in each monkey’s foetus.

“That is a very high level — 100 per cent exposure — of the virus to the foetus along with inflammation and tissue injury in an animal model that mirrors the infection in human pregnancies quite closely,” Golos said.

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Moreover, three of the foetuses involved had small heads, but not quite so small as children born with microcephaly.

Studying Zika infection in monkeys may help follow the progress of the mosquito-transmitted infection and associated health problems in humans, the researchers said.

“The results we’re seeing in monkey pregnancies make us think that, as they grow, more human babies might develop Zika-related disease pathology than is currently appreciated,” Golos noted. (IANS)

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Zika Virus can lead to paralysis, may also have serious adverse effects on Heart

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session on March 18 in d in Washington, DC

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FILE - Aedes aegypti mosquitos, potential carriers of the Zika virus, are photographed in a laboratory at the University of El Salvador, in San Salvador, Feb. 3, 2016. Researchers have found that during the height of the viral epidemic the incidence of the paralytic illness Guillain-Barre was 100 times the number of cases usually seen.(VOA)

New York, March 11, 2017: The deadly Zika virus, which is already known to cause birth defects and a neurological condition that can lead to paralysis, may have serious adverse effects on the heart, says a study.

In a study of a small group of adult patients with Zika and no previous history of cardiovascular disease, all but one developed a heart rhythm problem and two-thirds had evidence of heart failure, the researchers said.

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“We know that other mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever and chikungunya virus, can affect the heart, so we thought we might see the same with Zika. But we were surprised by the severity, even in this small number of patients,” said the study’s lead author Karina Gonzalez Carta, cardiologist and research fellow at Mayo Clinic in the US.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session on March 18 in d in Washington, DC.

The nine patients (six were female, and mean age was 47) were seen at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Caracas, Venezuela, within two weeks of having Zika-type symptoms.

They reported symptoms of heart problems, most commonly palpitations followed by shortness of breath and fatigue.

Only one patient had any previous cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure), and tests confirmed that all of the patients had active Zika infection.

Patients underwent an initial electrocardiogram (EKG), a test that shows the electrical activity of the heart, and in eight of the patients, the EKG suggested heartbeat rate or rhythm concerns.

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 These findings prompted further examination which showed serious arrhythmias (improper beating of the heart) in eight patients and heart failure in six cases.

The patients have been followed since July 2016, and none of their cardiac issues have resolved, but symptoms have improved following treatment for heart failure or atrial fibrillation, Carta said.

It is known that Zika can cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect in babies born to women infected with the virus, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological condition that can lead to muscle weakness and, in severe cases, paralysis.

“Following this research, we want patients who are suffering from Zika symptoms also to be aware of the cardiac symptoms because they might not connect the two,” Carta said. (IANS)