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HUMANITIES SCIENCE POLITICS

Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X

ZIKA VIRUS FEATURE | 17

Heavy hitters in virus research probe ZIKA's secrets

Helen Gavaghan *relevant professional biography

ON 3RD JANUARY, 2017 THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, A WORLD LEADING JOURNAL IN INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE, PUBLISHED A MASTER CLASS ON RESEARCH INTO VIRUSES, WRITTEN BY US AND JAPANESE SCIENTISTS. THEIR TARGET WAS, AND IS, THE ZIKA VIRUS, A PARASITE WHICH CAN HAVE CRUEL CONSEQUENCES. THE WORK APPEARED A MERE NINE AND A HALF MONTHS AFTER AN ARTICLE IN THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE AUTHORITATIVELY ARGUED THERE IS A CAUSAL LINK BETWEEN PRE-BIRTH MATERNAL ZIKA INFECTION AND CONGENITAL DEFECTS. IMPORTANTLY NOT ALL SUCH MATERNAL INFECTION CAUSES BIRTH DEFECTS. THE STAGE OF THE PREGNANCY WHEN INFECTION OCCURS SEEMS RELEVANT**

A quote for politicians:
"Viruses are extremely small (20-300nm) parasites, incapable of replication,
transcription or translation outside of a host cell." P265.


A quote for scientists:
"It is important to realise that viruses do not exist ... to cause disease, but
simply because they are able to replicate." P267
.
Instant notes in molecular biology (1997). Bios Scientific Publishers

When it comes to names that reverberate in the international world of science, medicine, and
biomedical research, Robert C. Gallo MD, tops the premier league. His work in the early 1980s
co-led identification of and the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Put simply, this means on learning Gallo had contributed a paper to the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) about the ZIKA virus, and where and how its proteins
affect an infected host cell, only one thing could follow for anyone serious about keeping up to
date with viruses in medicine. The paper, by Li et al, had to be read. The results he and his
colleagues are reporting - which were reviewed pre-publication by the best of the best - are a
critical part of knowledge-building needed to fight Zika infections in people of any age.

Both viral and host-cell biology are needed by all viruses for replication, Zika included, and
replication occurs inside an infected host. This study showed that Zika's proteins are found in
the host cell sub cellular locations one would have expected, given what is known generally
about the biology of viral replication, and the structure predicted for Zika's proteins from the
virus's genetic sequence.

In viruses, proteins are structural and non-structural. In this context, structural means part of
viral architecture, its capsid (outer shell), for example. The non-structural components are those
playing a part in the processes of the viral life cycle.

17

Issue 1 (Jan-Mar), 2017............................................Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X print and online


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CONTENTS

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P4

P5

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P12

P13

P14

P15

P16

Published Friday 24th February, 2017,
nominally.
Completed 9th April, 2017.

P17

P18

P19

P20

P21

P22

P23

P24

P25

P26

P27

P28

P29

P30

P31

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