Nearly $6 million in new NIH grants will enable Penn State researcher and colleagues to investigate how Zika virus replicates and crosses the placenta to infect unborn children
In 2015, an outbreak of Zika virus, driven by a heavy rain season and subsequent boom in the virus’s host mosquito population, caused thousands of babies in Brazil to be born with severe birth defects. Zika virus is unique among flaviviruses, which also include West Nile, dengue and yellow fever viruses, in its ability to transmit from an infected mother to her unborn child. How do the components of Zika virus assemble during viral replication and how does the virus then pass from mother to fetus? These are some of the questions that Joyce Jose, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State, and her colleagues aim to answer with two new grants from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases totaling nearly $6 million.