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GALVESTON, Texas -The first live-attenuated Zika vaccine still in the development stage completely protected mice against the virus after a single vaccination dose, according to new research from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Instituto Evandro Chagas at the Ministry of Health in Brazil. The findings are currently available in Nature Medicine. While a Zika infection typically results in mild or symptom-free infections in healthy adults and children, the risk of microcephaly and other diseases in the developing fetus is an alarming consequence that has created a worldwide health threat. Pregnant women who are infected with the Zika virus but never display any disease symptoms may still give birth to a baby with microcephaly. An effective vaccine is urgently needed for women of childbearing age and travelers to areas where the virus has been reported. Since Zika virus could also be sexually transmitted, prevention of men from infection through vaccination could also halt Zika transmission and diseases. Rapid and promising progress has been made toward a Zika vaccine. These developing vaccines have been made from an inactivated version of the Zika virus or subunits of the virus; these vaccine candidates have been shown effective in mice and nonhuman primates. "We chose to pursue a vaccine made from live virus that has been sufficiently attenuated, or weakened, to be safe, and is able to illicit robust immune response to protect us from Zika virus infection. Such live-attenuated vaccine has the advantage of single-dose immunization, rapid and strong immune response and potentially long-lived protection," said UTMB's Pei-Yong Shi, senior author and the I.H. Kempner professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "A successful vaccine requires a fine balance between efficacy and safety - vaccines made from attenuated live viruses generally offer fast and durable immunity, but sometimes with the trade-off of reduced safety, whereas inactivated and subunit viruses often provide enhanced safety but may require several doses initially and periodic boosters. Therefore, a safe live-attenuated vaccine will be ideal in prevention of Zika virus infection, especially in developing countries." To create the vaccine, the researchers engineered the Zika virus by deleting one segment of the viral genome. A similar approach has successfully been used to develop a dengue virus vaccine, which is currently in phase three clinical trials. Shi explained that the data indicate that the vaccine the team is developing has a good balance between safety and efficacy. A single immunization with the vaccine candidate produced strong immune responses and prevented the virus from infecting mice at all. "Safety is a major hurdle when developing a live-attenuated vaccine. Our Zika vaccine showed promising safety profile in mice when compared with clinically approved live-attenuated vaccines, such as the yellow fever vaccine," Shi said. "Vaccines are an important tool for preventing Zika virus transmission and microcephaly," said Pedro F. C. Vasconcelos, medical virologist and present director of the Evandro Chagas Institute and co-author. "This vaccine, the first live-attenuated vaccine for Zika, will improve the public health efforts to avoid the birth defects and diseases caused by Zika in countries where the virus is commonly found. The initial target of this vaccine is women of childbearing age, their sexual partners and children less than 10 years old. Other authors include UTMB's Chao Shan, Antonio Muruato, Huanle Luo, Xuping Xie, Maki Wakamiya, Robert Tesh, Alan Barrett, Tian Wang, Scott Weaver, and Shannan Rossi; Bruno Nunes and Daniele Medeiros who are affiliated with UTMB and the Instituto Evandro Chagas at the Ministry of Health in Brazil. This work was supported by UTMB, The University of Texas System, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pan American Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: co.newswire.com

The Next Generation of CBD Therapy with the Integration of Precision Medicine ​​Cannliv, LLC (Cannliv) announces the formation of a contractual joint venture with Vyripharm Biopharmaceuticals, (Vyripharm) to provide medical cannabis to support Vyripharm’s research and development program dedicated to the treatment of epilepsy, once the State of Texas Compassionate Use Act (CUP) and Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) state initiative rolls out in 2017. In addition to epilepsy, Vyripharm’s research and development program is focused on cancers, PTSD and general cognitive disorders at medical facilities across Texas. This design of the joint venture will be to produce medical cannabis for the healthcare industry that is specific to each unique person and condition through diagnostic molecular imaging of the patient and developing a molecular profile of the plant (agriculture profile). By integrating Vyripharm’s personalized platforms, this innovative approach will require the patient to undergo imaging scans as the patient is being treated to hopefully follow the efficacy of the drug during and after treatment. If the imaging procedure performed while the patient is undergoing therapy reveals that the patient is not responding to the treatment, the attending physician can use this critical information to determine if the therapy should be discontinued and a different therapy selected for the patient. This partnership continues Cannliv’s mission to produce medical grade CBD products through the use of Vyripharm’s patented platforms for medical cannabis product certification and medical cannabis research and development. Through controlled testing of medical cannabis products at a Vyripharm Cannabis Processing Center, or CPC, scientists can perform cannabinoid profiling, microbiological testing, analytical testing, food testing, acidified food testing, liquid testing, and pathogen testing. This comprehensive testing platform should provide the standard for the medical cannabis industry in terms of quality control, quality assurance and patient safety. Vyripharm will conduct its research and development using Cannliv’s medical cannabinoid products with their partnering medical institutions; UTMD Anderson, UTMB, Baylor College of Medicine and the VA Texas Healthcare System (in Houston,TX).   The first of which occurred in August 2016 at UTMD Anderson. Vyripharm President, Jerry Bryant, had this to say about the partnership, “For decades, chemotherapy and external radiation have remained an integral part of cancer therapy planning even in light of the adverse collateral effects of such therapies, however, if we can integrate medical cannabinoids with these treatments, we may be able to reduce the side effects and provide a better quality of life for cancer patients and their families. We believe cannabinoids will play a vital future role in the physician’s treatment plan addressing cancer and other types of disease disorders.” Cannliv President & CEO, John David Carrasco stated, “During the last year, our efforts to understand the emerging cannabinoid markets has poised Cannliv to offer a comprehensive solution to the State of Texas for medical cannabis.  With our partnerships in the U.S. and International partners, Cannliv facilitates proven strains of Low Level THC Cannabis and brings these products to the medical industry in research, human trials, and patient treatment, resulting in integrated personalized medicine.” Vyripharm is focusing on theranostic medicine combining diagnostic molecular imaging with target specific therapy to provide a greater degree of precision in addressing the patient’s medical condition on a personal level. Healthcare providers and patients will be able to identify specific medical cannabis strains that react best to specific conditions, resulting in better treatment outcomes. Cannliv’s first group of dispensaries will be located in Houston and Dallas, with additional locations across the state once qualified and Cannliv is awarded license.   Their complete CANNLIVE 1.0 Solution will be used to manage our Seed to Sale internal system for inventory tracking, accounting and registry integration as defined by the State of Texas. ABOUT CANNLIV, LLC  Cannliv is a Texas based biopharmaceutical manufacturer with its sole purpose to produce a natural, clean and user-friendly Cannabinoid products made with the purist ingredients for a truly consistent and reliable source of CBD.  Cannliv will be applying for the Compassionate Use Program licensing this month and will be announcing key partners resulting in proven treatment solutions for Texas. ABOUT VYRIPHARM BIOPHARMACEUTICALS Vyripharm is a biopharmaceutical firm focused on natural products, regulatory testing, pharmaceutical drug development of imaging agents, and drug delivery systems. The aim of Vyripharm is to improve clinical management through diagnosis and treatment with botanicals, synthetic pharmaceuticals, and drug delivery systems.


News Article | March 28, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez More CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. scientists have identified a genetically modified strain of mice that develop Zika, an important tool needed for testing vaccines and medicines to treat the virus that is rapidly spreading across the Americas and the Caribbean. Early tests on the mice show the virus growing in the testes, offering clues about how a virus typically spread by mosquito bites can be transmitted sexually. "We are going to do experiments to see if we can produce sexual transmission" in these mice, said Scott Weaver, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who worked on the study published on Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Weaver said the Zika mouse model will provide a critical tool to allow companies and scientists to test vaccines and antiviral drugs against Zika, which has been linked with thousands of cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect marked by unusually small head size and possible developmental problems. Zika has not been proven to cause microcephaly, but strong evidence connecting Zika infections with microcephaly cases in Brazil prompted the World Health Organization to declare Zika a global health emergency on Feb. 1. Normally, creating this kind of mouse model would take several months. But the urgency of the Zika outbreak called for rapid response, and the team put together the results in just three weeks, said Shannan Rossi, a UTMB virologist who led the study. Normally, mice do not become sick from a Zika infection. The team tested the virus on several genetically altered mice that had weakened immune systems. The young mice quickly succumbed to the virus, becoming lethargic, losing weight and typically dying six days later. Testing on the mice showed virus particles in many major organs, including high concentrations in the spleen, brain and testes. While Weaver says there are limits to what mouse models can tell about human infections, they may at least provide some early clues that could be followed up in non-human primates, a more costly animal model that is a better predictor of human disease. "The mouse will mainly be used to do the very earliest testing of vaccines or drugs where the mechanism of disease doesn't have to be a perfect model to what happens in humans," Weaver said. Brazil has confirmed more than 900 microcephaly cases and considers most related to Zika infections in the mothers. It is investigating nearly 4,300 additional suspected cases of microcephaly.


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Feb. 23, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- TOMI™ Environmental Solutions, Inc. (TOMI) (OTCQX:TOMZ), a global bacteria decontamination and infection prevention company, and its board of directors announced the formation and approval of  TOMI’s scientific advisory board. “We are honored William, Miguel and Helene – experts in intellectual property law, biosafety and infection prevention, respectively – have agreed to join our scientific advisory board,” stated Dr. Halden Shane, TOMI’s Chief Executive Officer. “We believe their support validates TOMI’s groundbreaking SteraMist™, and their guidance will help TOMI in "Innovating for a Safer World.” The team is charged with constructively challenging management to help develop strategy; ensuring the necessary resources are in place to enable us to achieve objectives in scientific research and development; and monitoring technological and regulatory trends that could impact our business as well as our performance against our goals. We believe their insight will be invaluable.” William M. Brown, PhD, MBA, JD William M. Brown, PhD, MBA, JD is a consultant and advisor to a series of biotech and life sciences companies. Dr. Brown is a seasoned attorney in intellectual property with deep experience in healthcare-related matters. He is licensed to practice law in several states and is a registered patent attorney. His consulting experience includes intellectual property portfolio management, clinical trial contracts, and patent/business development matters. He holds a PhD from the University of Southampton, England, an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a JD from New York Law School. Dr. Brown conducted postdoctoral research at Harvard, Johnson & Johnson, NIH, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Miguel A. Grimaldo, MEng Miguel A. Grimaldo, MEng is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Pathology, Director of Institutional Biocontainment Resources at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and the Director of the Biocontainment Engineering Division for the Galveston National Laboratory. His responsibilities include the review of all design, construction, commissioning and operation of High and Maximum containment laboratories as well as to ensure regulatory compliance and to conduct ongoing evaluation and recertification on all critical containment features, equipment and operations for Biosafety Level 3 (BSL‐3), Animal Biosafety Level 3 (ABSL3) and Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) laboratory facilities at UTMB. He is also a member of the UTMB Institutional Biosafety Committee. He has served as Committee Member for development of the ANSI Z9.14‐2014 Standard ‐ Testing and Performance‐Verification Methodologies for Ventilation Systems for Biosafety Level 3 (BSL‐3) and Animal Biosafety Level 3 (ABSL‐3) facilities as well as for the 2016 Edition of the National Institute of Health (NIH) ‐ Design Requirements Manual (DRM) for Biomedical Laboratories and Animal Research Facilities. Miguel routinely serves as Biocontainment Advisor for containment laboratories nationally and internationally on design, construction and operations and also routinely contributes to a technical column in the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) journal, Applied Biosafety entitled, “Containment Talk”. Mr. Grimaldo obtained his Masters of Engineering from the University of Louisville and Bachelor of Science degrees in Agricultural Engineering and Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University. Dr. Helene Paxton, MS, MT(ASCP), PhD, CIC Dr. Helene Paxton, MS, MT(ASCP), PhD, CIC, is an Infection Preventionist, owner of Bio Guidance, LLC, adjunct biology professor at Rowan University and Director of Infection Prevention at Saint Francis Healthcare. She is Infection Control Certified (CIC), board certified as an International Medical Laboratory Scientist and holds a PhD in Epidemiology. Dr. Paxton has 40 plus years’ experience in medical devices and infectious disease consulting. Dr. Paxton obtained her PhD from Kennedy Western University and her MS from Bowling Green State University. Scientific Advisory Board Provisions and criteria have been set in the company's bylaws and scientific advisory board charter. TOMI’s scientific advisory board will always observe in the letter and spirit the duties, rights and role as a member of the company's board as stipulated in the relevant listing standards. About TOMI™ Environmental Solutions, Inc. TOMI™ Environmental Solutions, Inc. (OTCQX:TOMZ) is a global bacteria decontamination and infectious disease control company, providing eco-friendly environmental solutions for indoor surface disinfection through manufacturing, sales and licensing of its premier platform of Hydrogen Peroxide based product that uses Binary Ionization Technology® (BIT™) , a state of the art technology for the production of its Activated Ionized Hydrogen Peroxide mist represented by the TOMI™ SteraMist™ brand. TOMI’s products are designed to service a broad spectrum of commercial structures including hospitals and medical facilities, cruise ships, office buildings, hotel and motel rooms, schools, restaurants, for non-food safety in meat and produce processing facilities, military barracks, and athletic facilities. TOMI’s products and services have also been used in single-family homes and multi-unit residences. TOMI also develops training programs and application protocols for its clients and is a member in good standing with The American Biological Safety Association, The American Association of Tissue Banks, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, The Restoration Industry Association, Indoor Air Quality Association, and The International Ozone Association. For additional product information, visit www.tomimist.com or contact us at info@tomimist.com. Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 Certain written and oral statements made by us may constitute “forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “Reform Act”). Forward-looking statements are identified by such words and phrases as “we expect,” “expected to,” “estimates,” “estimated,” “current outlook,” “we look forward to,” “would equate to,” “projects,” “projections,” “projected to be,” “anticipates,” “anticipated,” “we believe,” “could be,” and other similar phrases. All statements addressing operating performance, events, or developments that we expect or anticipate will occur in the future, including statements relating to revenue growth, earnings, earnings-per-share growth, or similar projections, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Reform Act. They are forward-looking, and they should be evaluated in light of important risk factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from our anticipated results. The information provided in this document is based upon the facts and circumstances known at this time. We undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements after the date of this release.


News Article | December 1, 2016
Site: www.marketwired.com

Board certified plastic surgeon Kevin Cook, MD discusses the many options available when considering breast augmentation and responds to common patient inquiries MIDLAND, TX--(Marketwired - Dec 1, 2016) - For Midland plastic surgeon Kevin Cook, MD, breast augmentation is one of the most common procedures he performs. According to Dr. Cook, adult women of all ages come to his practice seeking to enhance the appearance of their bustline. Whether they desire fuller breasts, more shapely curves, or a more youthful lift to their breasts, he listens to their motivations and goals and carefully explains their breast augmentation options. He believes that the more informed his patients are about the procedure, the easier the process is to navigate. One of the most common questions Dr. Cook hears is: which breast implants will give me the look I want? When it comes to breast implants, there are so many different choices for patients to make, he explains. Silicone or saline; round or anatomical; smooth or textured; the options can seem endless, but the bottom-line for many of his patients is which one is going to best meet their physical and cosmetic requirements. During the initial patient consultation, he emphasizes the plastic surgeon really has to understand the body he or she is working with, and how it will likely respond to different implants and breast augmentation techniques. He notes that walking the patient through the various types of implants, incision methods, and implant placement options is vital to reaching a mutual conclusion that can yield optimal results. Often, patients also ask Dr. Cook which augmentation approach he thinks is best for achieving the end result they desire. In some cases, his patients have not considered adding a breast lift to their procedure to elevate the bustline, reduce drooping, reshape the breasts, and add volume with one surgery, he explains. Ultimately, Dr. Cook's consultation process culminates in a discussion about the cost of breast augmentation surgery. At this point in the process, he and his staff are able to calculate a price based on the variables he and the patient have discussed. The cost of each procedure can vary, he explains, and it is important to receive a customized quote that lays out financial obligations very clearly. He also advises that, if patients are concerned about affording the cost of the surgery, exploring any financing options offered through the practice may be beneficial. About Kevin Cook, MD Dr. Kevin Cook is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon and the medical director of Midland Plastic Surgery Center. He earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. After medical school, Dr. Cook began his specialized training in all aspects of plastic surgery at the University of Cincinnati. He furthered his surgical experience by completing a fellowship in craniofacial surgery at the Craniofacial Center in Dallas. At his practice, Dr. Cook offers a wide range of options for improving the appearance of the breasts, body, face, and skin. He also provides reconstructive surgery services for patients affected by facial trauma and cancer. He is available for interview upon request. For more information about Dr. Kevin Cook and Midland Plastic Surgery Center please visit midlandplasticsurgery.com and facebook.com/midlandplasticsurgery. To view the original source of this press release, click here: http://www.midlandplasticsurgery.com/breast-augmentation/midland-plastic-surgeon-answers-patients-questions-about-breast-augmentation


News Article | November 18, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New research from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, in collaboration with Southwest University in Chongqing, China and the University of Leuven in Belgium, have developed a way to replicate the basic structure of the Zika virus, stripping it of the genes that make the virus infectious. The replicon system research was spearheaded by Dr. Xuping Xie and recently published in EBioMedicine. Replicons are segments of viral genome that can replicate on their own, independent of the cellular chromosome. The new Zika replicon system has deleted some of the genes that give the virus its structure. Because of this, the altered Zika virus is no longer infectious, lowering the safety risk involved in working with it. "One of these replicons can be used to locate portions of the viral molecule that block or halt viral replication, making it a powerful tool for vaccine development," said senior author Pei-Yong Shi, a professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology. The replicon system was engineered by attaching genes that allow researchers to tag certain parts of the virus that they are interested in. Luciferase, the chemical that gives fireflies their signature glow, was used to make targeted viral components light up - making processes like replication much easier to observe. "The other newly-developed replicon was designed to study potential antiviral agents by differentiating between when the virus is making copies of itself and when it's altering its structure," Shi said. "Knowing when and how the virus is mutating is important, as evolution is what makes viruses more adept at invading hosts like humans or animals or become more damaging once inside the host." The recent Zika virus outbreak has highlighted the urgent need to establish genetic tools for studying how the virus multiplies and causes disease within a newly infected person in order to develop countermeasures. This is especially important because the Zika virus is spreading rapidly and behaves differently than many other viruses - for instance, it can be transmitted sexually and is associated with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Other authors include UTMB's Xuping Xie, Jing Zou, Shan Chao, Yujiao Yang and Dieudonné Buh Kum and Kai Dallmeier and Johan Neyts from the University of Leuven in Belguim. Yujiao Yang is also affiliated with Southwest University in China.


News Article | November 18, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

A new study from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston offers important insight into how Alzheimer's disease begins within the brain. The researchers found a relationship between inflammation, a toxic protein and the onset of the disease. The study also identified a way that doctors can detect early signs of Alzheimer's by looking at the back of patients' eyes. "Early detection of Alzheimer's warning signs would allow for early intervention and prevention of neurodegeneration before major brain cell loss and cognitive decline occurs," said lead author Ashley Nilson, a neuroscience graduate student. "Using the retina for detecting AD and other neurodegenerative diseases would be non-invasive, inexpensive and could become a part of a normal screening done at patient checkups." UTMB researchers have previously found evidence that a toxic form of tau protein may underlie the early stages of Alzheimer's. Brain cells depend on tau protein to form highways for the cell to receive nutrients and get rid of waste. In some neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, the tau protein changes into a toxic form called tau oligomers and begins clumping into neurofibrillary tangles. When this happens, molecular nutrients can no longer move to where they are needed and the oligomers produce toxic effects leading to the eventual death of the brain cells. It's becoming increasingly clear that inflammation within the brain plays an important role in Alzheimer's development and progression. Inflammation and loss of connections between nerves within the brain happen before the formation of the tangles that are characteristic of this disease. It's possible that the tau oligomers may be responsible for this inflammation. In a recent paper in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, UTMB's research team detailed their investigation on the relationship between inflammation, toxic tau and Alzheimer's onset by performing systematic analyses of brain and retina samples from people with Alzheimer's and a mouse model of Alzheimer's. The results demonstrated that the toxic tau may induce inflammation in Alzheimer's. The toxic tau spreads between connected brain regions, which may initiate inflammation in these new regions. This situation can create a cycle of toxic tau, inflammation and cell death throughout the brain over time. Beyond determining eye health and corrective lens prescriptions, having an eye exam can alert health care professionals of several different health conditions including diabetic complications, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Now, UTMB researchers found that retina tissue that they studied can show evidence of toxic tau and inflammation. "Our findings suggest that the degeneration of nerve cells due to chronic inflammation induced by the tau oligomers may be combated through the combination of anti-tau oligomer and anti-inflammatory therapeutics for the treatment of Alzheimer's and related diseases," said senior author Rakez Kayed, associate professor in the UTMB Department of Neurology. "Our is continuing to expand our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases."


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

A multidisciplinary team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered the mechanisms that the Zika virus uses to alter brain development. These findings are detailed in Stem Cell Reports. There are currently 70 countries and territories reporting active Zika transmission, according to the World Health Organization. While a Zika infection typically results in mild or symptom-free infections in healthy adults and children, the risk of microcephaly in the developing fetus is an alarming consequence that has created a worldwide health threat. Babies with microcephaly can have a wide array of problems including a small brain and head, developmental delays, seizures, vision and hearing loss and feeding difficulty. Scientists are trying to determine how a Zika infection triggers these defects. Since a normal brain develops from simple cells called stem cells that are able to develop into any one of various kinds of cells, the UTMB team deduced that microcephaly is most likely linked with abnormal function of these cells. There are two main lineages of the virus, African and Asian. Recently, the UTMB team found that only the Asian lineage has been linked with microcephaly. So, what is it about this particular form of the virus that inflicts such damage? The researchers established a method of investigating how Zika alters the production, survival and maturation of brain stem cells using cells donated from three human fetal brains. They focused on the impact of the Asian lineage Zika virus that was involved in the first outbreak in North America in late 2015. "We discovered that the Asian lineage Zika virus halted the proliferation of brain stem cells and hindered their ability to develop into brain nerve cells," said Ping Wu, senior author on the study and UTMB professor in the Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology. "However, the effect that the Zika virus had on the ability of stem cells to develop into specialized cells differed between donors. This difference seems to be linked with a Zika-induced change in global gene expression pattern, it remains to be seen which genes are responsible. "The unique system containing stem cells from three donors will allow us to dissect molecular mechanisms underlying Zika virus-induced brain malformation," Wu added. Senior author and UTMB associate professor in the Department of Pathology Nikos Vasilakis said that they discovered that two weeks after the cells had developed into a certain type, the Zika infection was mainly found in glial cells, which provide support and insulation for the brain.


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

A multidisciplinary team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered the mechanisms that the Zika virus uses to alter brain development. These findings are detailed in Stem Cell Reports. There are currently 70 countries and territories reporting active Zika transmission, according to the World Health Organization. While a Zika infection typically results in mild or symptom-free infections in healthy adults and children, the risk of microcephaly in the developing fetus is an alarming consequence that has created a worldwide health threat. Babies with microcephaly can have a wide array of problems including a small brain and head, developmental delays, seizures, vision and hearing loss and feeding difficulty. Scientists are trying to determine how a Zika infection triggers these defects. Since a normal brain develops from simple cells called stem cells that are able to develop into any one of various kinds of cells, the UTMB team deduced that microcephaly is most likely linked with abnormal function of these cells. There are two main lineages of the virus, African and Asian. Recently, the UTMB team found that only the Asian lineage has been linked with microcephaly. So, what is it about this particular form of the virus that inflicts such damage? The researchers established a method of investigating how Zika alters the production, survival and maturation of brain stem cells using cells donated from three human fetal brains. They focused on the impact of the Asian lineage Zika virus that was involved in the first outbreak in North America in late 2015. "We discovered that the Asian lineage Zika virus halted the proliferation of brain stem cells and hindered their ability to develop into brain nerve cells," said Ping Wu, senior author on the study and UTMB professor in the Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology. "However, the effect that the Zika virus had on the ability of stem cells to develop into specialized cells differed between donors. This difference seems to be linked with a Zika-induced change in global gene expression pattern, it remains to be seen which genes are responsible. Wu further stated, "the unique system containing stem cells from three donors will allow us to dissect molecular mechanisms underlying Zika virus-induced brain malformation." Senior author and UTMB associate professor in the Department of Pathology Nikos Vasilakis said that they discovered that two weeks after the cells had developed into a certain type, the Zika infection was mainly found in glial cells, which provide support and insulation for the brain.


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The findings are key to unraveling the mysteries of why the Zika virus causes birth defects A multidisciplinary team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered the mechanisms that the Zika virus uses to alter brain development. These findings are detailed in Stem Cell Reports. There are currently 70 countries and territories reporting active Zika transmission, according to the World Health Organization. While a Zika infection typically results in mild or symptom-free infections in healthy adults and children, the risk of microcephaly in the developing fetus is an alarming consequence that has created a worldwide health threat. Babies with microcephaly can have a wide array of problems including a small brain and head, developmental delays, seizures, vision and hearing loss and feeding difficulty. Scientists are trying to determine how a Zika infection triggers these defects. Since a normal brain develops from simple cells called stem cells that are able to develop into any one of various kinds of cells, the UTMB team deduced that microcephaly is most likely linked with abnormal function of these cells. There are two main lineages of the virus, African and Asian. Recently, the UTMB team found that only the Asian lineage has been linked with microcephaly. So, what is it about this particular form of the virus that inflicts such damage? The researchers established a method of investigating how Zika alters the production, survival and maturation of brain stem cells using cells donated from three human fetal brains. They focused on the impact of the Asian lineage Zika virus that was involved in the first outbreak in North America in late 2015. "We discovered that the Asian lineage Zika virus halted the proliferation of brain stem cells and hindered their ability to develop into brain nerve cells," said Ping Wu, senior author on the study and UTMB professor in the Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology. "However, the effect that the Zika virus had on the ability of stem cells to develop into specialized cells differed between donors. This difference seems to be linked with a Zika-induced change in global gene expression pattern, it remains to be seen which genes are responsible. Wu further stated, "the unique system containing stem cells from three donors will allow us to dissect molecular mechanisms underlying Zika virus-induced brain malformation." Senior author and UTMB associate professor in the Department of Pathology Nikos Vasilakis said that they discovered that two weeks after the cells had developed into a certain type, the Zika infection was mainly found in glial cells, which provide support and insulation for the brain. Other authors include UTMB's Erica McGrath, Shannan Rossi, Junling Gao, Steven Widen, Auston Grant, Tiffany Dunn, Sasha Azar, Christopher Roundy, Ying Xiong, Deborah Prusak, Bradford Loucas, Thomas Wood, Yongjia Yu and Scott Weaver, as well as Ildefonso Fernandez-Salas from the Centro Regional de Salud Publica in Mexico.

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