University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers discovered a way Zika hurts developing brain cells, according to News-Medical.
The team found Zika activates TLR3, a molecule used to defend against viruses. Consequently, TLR3 shuts down genes that stem cells require to turn into brain cells. The study used an organoid model representative of the early developing human brain, and added a prototype Zika virus strain to the model.
Cell Stem Cell published the study its in May 6 issue.
Here are five insights:
1. The researches found when they inhibited TLR3, brain cell damage decreased.
2. The study found the healthy brain organoid grew an average of 22.6 percent five days post mock-infection, while the Zika-infected organoid grew an average of 16 percent.
3. The researchers then treated the Zika-infected organoid with a TLR3 inhibitor, which subdued the virus' effects on brain cell health.
4. The Zika-infected organoid still exhibited a rough outer surface and saw more cell death, however.
5. The researchers cautioned their study is based on the Zika virus strain originated form Uganda, not Latin America. Also, they only tested their theory on human cells and mouse cells grown in a laboratory.