Saturday November 18, 2017

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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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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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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Headache Due to Spending Long Hours in Front of Computer? Here’s how you can protect your eyes!

Staring at computer/ mobile screens would not permanently damage your eyes, but it would make you suffer the condition where your eyes would be able to focus well only on close objects, whereas more distant objects would appear blurred

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Protect your eyes by the following steps
It is important to protect your eyes from the strain caused by spending long hours in front of screen. Pixabay
  • People who spend 7 or more hours in front of the screen experience the symptoms of dry eye
  • All these symptoms fall under the category of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)
  • These seven simple things when taken care of, will help protect your eyes

New Delhi, August 2, 2017: You might not like tears, but you must still be thankful for what all that they do for your eyes. Tears keep your eyes clean and lubricated and therefore healthy. People who do not produce enough tears suffer from a condition called dry eye, in which not enough moisture is produced to lubricate the surface of the eyeball, leading to pain, itching and blurred vision. According to a new report, people who happen to spend 7 or more hours in front of the screen experience similar symptoms.

All these symptoms that one experiences as a consequence of sitting for long hours in front of the screen, fall under the category of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). It isn’t one problem but includes a whole range of eye related problems.

Staring at computer/ mobile screens would not permanently damage your eyes, but it would make you suffer the condition where your eyes would be able to focus well only on close objects, whereas more distant objects would appear blurred. If a little awareness could save your eyes, there’s no logic in choosing ignorance.

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Here are seven simple things which are capable of protecting your eyes, and only ask for a little attention in return:

Mission No Glare: Always make sure that there isn’t too much indoor light since too much light competing with the light of the device can create glare on the screen. One can also use an anti-glare screen, or add an anti-reflective coating to their glasses. Anti reflective coating helps in reducing the glare by minimizing the amount of light reflected from the lenses of the eyeglass.

Adjust the screen display: The perk of adjusting the screen display by increasing the contrast, so that the brightness feels comfortable is underestimated. A cooler, gray background is always better than a bright white background. Eye strain is often the result of excessively bright light around the screen if a little adjustment can help, then why not?

Blink often: Staring at screens make us blink less frequently and we tend to open our eyes wider than we do when performing other tasks, which results in faster tear evaporation, giving way to dry eye. An average person’s blink rate is about 15-20 times per minute, which decreases up to half when the eyes are fixated on some screen. The easiest way to reduce dry eye problem is by blinking often, consciously and voluntarily.

ALSO READ: It’s all in the eyes; new study shows why dogs fall in love with humans

Regular breaks: Your computer and mobile devices aren’t going anywhere. An email can wait and you’re not going to get the most important call of your life in the very time you decide to take a pause. These reasons are convincing enough to make you stop your work for a while and go out and have a coffee instead. Who chooses pain and headache over coffee?

The 20-20-20 rule: An extension of ‘Regular breaks’ is a systematic system known as the 20-20-20 rule, where one takes regular breaks every 20 minutes or so, and which when implemented can work wonders. This would provide your eyes the much-needed rest and prevent fatigue and strain causing headache and blurred vision. Even closing your eyes for a bit, every 20 minutes, can provide them the much-needed relaxation.

Keep screens away from the bed: Almost all digital screens are backlit and emit blue light, or high-energy visible (HEV) light wavelengths, which are believed to cause irritation in the eyes. Blue light also suppresses melatonin, the sleep hormone, causing an artificial feeling of wakefulness. Fluctuations in the level of melatonin influence our desire to stay awake, making it important to keep the screens away from the bed.

Regular checkups:  There’s no alternative to this one. People with myopia, or nearsightedness, and other vision issues like hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia are at increased risk, making checkups for them an unavoidable option, however, it is important for everybody to stay updated with their eye status, in order to ensure healthy vision.

-by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.