Scientists Find Protein That Can Block Zika Virus
Scientists recently discovered that a protein called IFITM3 could block the Zika virus from infecting humans. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have been studying samples of the Zika virus for a good eight weeks now looking for any clue as to how we can defeat the dastardly Zika virus. They found that a tiny protein, IFITM3, we all have inside our bodies could reduce the ability of the Zika virus to infect human cells and even prevent the virus from killing our cells.
The seemingly unbeatable Zika virus is not so unbeatable after all. While studying how our cells fight back against the Zika virus, researchers discovered that the protein IFITM3 has the ability to reduce and possibly block viral infection. IFITM3 works by altering the cell membrane, making it more difficult for viruses to penetrate this outer shell and infiltrate the interior of the cell, causing infection. IFITM3 makes it possible for our cells to basically swallow the Zika virus and then quarantine it so that it can’t infect other cells. This prevents that cell as well as other cells from being infected by the virus.
This little protein is the first line of defense we have, keeping the virus from getting its’ dirty hands on the resources within our cells it uses to grow and spread. Scientists are now working to see if they can develop some kind of treatment or vaccine against the Zika virus using this protein.
How close do you think this discovery brings us to developing a treatment or vaccine that can end this Zika virus epidemic?