Jan 23, 2019 | Updated: 10:56 AM EST

Why Zika Virus Causes Microcephaly In Pregnant Mother's Babies, Scientists Explain

Jun 04, 2017 01:36 PM EDT


Zika virus is widely known to be a life-threatening infection that affects millions of people in many countries. However, some babies in the areas inflicted with the virus were born with the rare case of microcephaly. Scientists then explain why pregnant women affected with Zika give birth to babies with the disease.

According to Science Daily, microcephaly is described to be the case wherein babies are born with abnormally small heads. Zika virus was said to affect pregnant mothers, which is why babies are born with microcephaly. Researchers from Wellcome Trust then explained that the core cause of why Zika virus cause microcephaly in babies is a protein called Musashi-1, known as MSI1.

The study published in the journal Science then said that as the Zika virus enters the body, the MSI1 protein binds to the RNA genome of the infection. The interaction between the MSI1 and the infection causes the body’s neural stem cells to be prone to cell death. Hence, the MSI1 is said to lose its ability to properly direct brain development as it binds to the Zika genome instead and loses the neural stem cells, which leads to microcephaly.

“We’ve shown for the first time this interaction between Zika and MSI1—with MSI1 getting exploited by the virus for its own destructive life cycle, turning MSI1 into the enemy within” study co-author from the University of Cambridge, Fanni Gergely said in a statement. The team was also said to discover a rarely inherited microcephaly called autosomal recessive primary microcephaly.

The Head of Infection and Immunobiology at Wellcome Trust, Mike Turner, said that their study indeed explained why the body’s neural stem cells are very vulnerable to Zika virus. Turner also hopes that their study on microcephaly and Zika virus link would open avenues in how the infection could be prevented, cured and vaccinated.

India TV News then reported that a neurologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a specialist at brain malformations, Dr. Hannah M. Tully stated that there is no cure nor vaccine for microcephaly caused by the Zika virus. Yet, there are still precautions and therapies to prevent being infected by it.

Nonetheless, it was also mentioned that Dengue vaccine could possibly work on Zika Virus since the same antibodies neutralize them both. Other preventive measures were said to be wearing insect repellents and full clothing wear. Using window screens, reducing stagnant water usage and staying away from locations infected by the infection was also advised.

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