Galveston.com  A Genetic Mutation Provides a Potential Explanation for the Recent Spread of Zika Virus


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A Genetic Mutation Provides a Potential Explanation for the Recent Spread of Zika Virus

Updated 562 days ago

The Zika virus may have undergone a genetic mutation that enabled it to become the serious public health concern we are battling today, according to the latest research from a team of researchers from the U.S. and China.

In a paper published in Nature the researchers explain that Zika virus isolates from the recent outbreak in the Americas were much more infectious in mosquitoes than Zika virus isolates collected in Cambodia in 2010. The increase in the virus’s infectivity in mosquito was likely due to a genetic mutation found in a particular non-structural protein.

“This research helped us understand how and why the Zika virus, which we’ve known about since the 1940s, suddenly spread so quickly,” said Pei-Yong Shi, a professor at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “The current study used a well-adapted laboratory mosquito strains. The next step is to examine whether field mosquitoes could recapitulate the same conclusion.”

The researchers who participated in this work included scientists from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, along with collaborators from Dr. Gong Cheng’s team at the Tsinghua University, and other participants from the Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, the Southern University of Science and Technology, and the New York Medical College.

“Our data offer a potential explanation for the recent re-emergence of the Zika virus,” Shi said.

To set up an interview with Dr. Pei-Yong Shi contact Christopher Smith Gonzalez at chrissmi@utmb.edu or 409-772-8790.

Article written by Raul Reyes

Raul Reyes, director of media relations at UTMB, has an extensive background in communications with more than 30 years experience in journalism. Before joining UTMB in 2007, he was an editor at The New York Times and also worked as an editor at the Dallas Morning News and the San Antonio Express-News. When he and his wife, Linda, worked at the Houston Chronicle in the 1980s, they used to dream about living and working in Galveston. Some things do come true. Raul is at UTMB and Linda edits a couple of Dallas magazines from their home in Galveston.

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