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Jun 27, 2016 11:02 AM EDT

Researchers at University of Texas Push Efforts to Fight Zika Virus

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The investigators from the University of Texas System made a number of groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in Zika virus research.

The Latin American countries that are infested with the Zika virus are turning to the expertise of researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in their battle against the widespread occurrence of the contagious disease, Healio reported.

The researchers at the UTMB alongside colleagues from the Brazilian Ministry of Health are developing a Zika vaccine. The University of Texas Medical Branch is also working together with Cuban scientists at the Instituto Pedro Kouri in Havana, a 2-year research development program to fight against Zika and other contagious diseases.

University of Texas System's chief medical officer - David Lakey, MD, said in a statement that the institution is leading the way on multiple fronts to technically kill Zika virus. Lakey also said that they should act urgently as the mosquitoes that are the carriers of Zika are most active during the summer.

As mosquito season is fast approaching, among other UTMB facilities like the World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses, and  the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, increased their efforts to research and conquer the Zika virus.

William H. McRaven, University of Texas System Chancellor and the person who launched last year the Quantum Leaps strategic initiatives, stated that they are leveraging their size and expertise to understand Zika at its fundamental level and spread over a wide area the best and most timely information to help local, federal agencies and state to fight the infectious virus, Bionews Texas reported.

However, the UT Southwestern scientists' second landmark discovery found out that the Zika virus directly contaminates human brain cells and dodge immune system detection. As stated by John Schoggins, Ph.D - UTSW microbiologist, when Zika virus infects brain cells, it intends to become neurons.

According to a study which was collaborated by Princeton University researchers, after pregnant women in Latin American countries received health alerts about Zika virus, they were believed to seek an abortion, Science Daily reported.

© 2017 University Herald, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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