Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Could Zika virus hold the key to fighting brain tumours?

Could Zika virus hold the key to fighting brain tumours?

Ruckert presented initial findings from the study last fall at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene in Atlanta, Georgia.

The study was published May 19 in the journal Nature Communications. The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus.

The researchers examined the saliva, gut and legs of the insects for signs of viral infection. The researchers wanted to find out if the infamous Aedes aegypti mosquito may be able to spread multiple diseases at once.

Co-infection with humans is unknown because doctors rarely check for all three viruses.

"The project showed the synthesised virus was able to induce a medical condition - microcephaly - in pregnant mice, and was able to be transmitted by mosquitoes".

"Dual infections in humans, however, are fairly common, or more common than we would have thought", Ruckert added.

One virus proved to be dominant and outcompeted the others in the midgut of the mosquito where the infections establish and replicate before being transmitted to humans. They found that 92 percent of the mosquitoes tested positive for all three viruses.

The World Health Organization has more on mosquito-borne diseases. "On the one hand, all of these viruses have mechanisms to suppress mosquito immunity, which could lead to synergy".

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All three infections cause flu-like symptoms - fever, joint and bone pain, headache - with dengue and zika also causing skin rash.

"We've been fortunate to this point that we have not had local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus in New Mexico", Lynn Gallagher, New Mexico Department of Health Cabinet Secretary said. Brian Foy, CSU associate professor in the Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, made that connection in 2008.

Though India hasn't recorded a zika outbreak, co-infection with dengue and chikungunya is known to happen during outbreaks inIndia.

What is the threat for people diagnosed with a coinfection? Some studies have found little or no risk and others have found some link to complications.

It's also likely that there is significant underdiagnosis of coinfections.

"Depending on what diagnostics are used, and depending on what the clinicians think, they might not notice there's another virus", Ruckert said.

As there is still no vaccine for the Zika virus, it is recommended to continue taking precautionary steps against mosquito bites.

The Zika virus can be transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. This unusual turn of events will see researchers investigate whether or not the virus that has caused an epidemic in South America can hunt down and kill cancer cells.

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