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Zika virus can also attack adult brains and cause memory deficits

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The Zika virus, which in recent years has attracted attention not only in the scientific field, has been the subject of research by a group of neuroscientists at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.

Zika virus can also infect adult human tissue

Researchers exposed small fragments of adult human brain tissue to the Zika virus in turn isolated from an infected patient. The researchers found that the virus can infect not only immature neurons in the developing brain but can also infect and deposit in adult human tissue. In this way, it can produce new copies and thus infect even larger areas.

Zika virus produces memory deterioration

They then injected the Zika virus into mice’ brains and noticed a deterioration in memory, which persisted even after the virus had been defeated by the body. This thing, moreover, as reported by Claudia P. Figueiredo and Sergio T. Ferreira, who conducted the research together with the virologist Andrea Da Poian, shows that the main areas where the Zika virus replicates in the brain are those responsible for learning and memory processing.

Zika virus causes inflammatory response in the brain

The same researchers have finally shown that infection with the Zika virus causes a strong inflammatory response in the brain of mice and this caused the activation of the microglia, ie the immune cells in the brain.

Fernanda Barros-Aragão, one of the authors of the study, explains this inflammatory response as follows: “Neurons communicate through highly specialized regions called synapses. Surprisingly, we found that the microglia that aberrantly activates on infection from a ZIKV attack attacks and swallows the synapses. This compromises communication between neurons and thus the formation of new memories. Interestingly, when the animals were treated for about a week with anti-inflammatory drugs that could block the activation of the microglia, they recovered their memory.”

Links/Sources:

http://inct-inovamed.cienp.org.br/2019/09/03/press-release-zika-virus-infects-the-adult-human-brain-and-causes-memory-deficits-in-animal-models/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11866-7

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]
Jane Baker
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Frontera, the fifth fastest supercomputer in the world, has been opened at the University of Texas

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The University of Texas has officially “inaugurated” Frontera, the fastest supercomputer available in any university in the world and generally the fifth most powerful computer in the world.

Located in the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) of the Texas faculty, this computer joins Stampede2, the second-fastest supercomputer available for any American university, also located in the same faculty.

These two computers make the University of Texas in Austin one of the leading institutions in the field of supercomputers. The same press release speaks of a “new era” in academic supercomputing with a resource that will help the nation’s best scientists to explore science on a large scale and make the next generation of discoveries.

The Frontera supercomputer has firmly placed fifth in the ranking of the fastest supercomputers in the world reaching 23.5 PetaFLOPS. The computer uses over 16,000 processors and a total of almost half a million cores.

However, the supercomputer has already been used by several researchers in recent months. For example, Olexandr Isayev, a chemist from the University of North Carolina, used it to perform more than 3 million atomic force field calculations in less than 24 hours.

But it is in the field of quantum mechanics that, according to the researchers themselves, this supercomputer will shine. “We are really looking forward to performing large-scale calculations that were not possible before,” says Isayev himself.

Links/Sources:

https://fronteraweb.tacc.utexas.edu/

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]
Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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A new dinosaur in Japan that lived 72 million years ago was just classified

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A new Hadrosaurus dinosaur that lived in the late Cretaceous was classified by a group of Japanese researchers.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, talks about the methods of analysis performed by researchers on a fossil found in the formation of Hakobuchi, an island of Hokkaido.

The new dinosaur has been named Kamuysaurus japonicus. The first term refers to “Kamuy,” a deity of the Ainu, an indigenous population of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The second term refers to Japan.

The discovery, made by Yoshitsugu Kobayashi and colleagues, is related to an adrosaur of about eight meters long that lived about 72 million years ago. It can be considered an average-sized adult hadrosaur weighing 4 tonnes or 5.3 tonnes, depending on whether it was walking on two or four legs.

Unique features found by researchers include a small crest on the head and a row of neural spines pointing forward. According to the researchers, the Kamuysaurus japonicus is related to other adrosaurs whose fossils have been found in the Far East. Among the latter are the Chinese Laiyangosaurus and the Russian Kerberosaurus.

Important discovery

This is an important discovery because it could allow a better understanding of the evolution of the Hadrosaurids during the late Cretaceous period, from 100.5 to 66 million years ago, that is until the period of the very disappearance of the dinosaurs.

Moreover, the fact that it was found near the sea, makes this fossil an important finding in relation to the understanding of the development and evolution of the same adrosaurids in such environments. This discovery, in fact, suggests that the members of the adrosaurids and its subfamilies, Hadrosaurinae and Lambeosaurinae, preferred to live near the coasts.

Links/Sources:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-48607-1

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]
Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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Scientists discover how typhoid bacterium causes DNA breakage

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A team of researchers at the University of Sheffield studied how the pathogen Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid, accelerates the aging of body cells by “hijacking” molecules for DNA repair.

Typhoid fever, also known as “typhus,” affects more than 21 million people worldwide each year, killing about 168,000 people. The disease is particularly widespread in Southeast Asia.

Researchers have infected human cells with Salmonella typhi in the laboratory and used fluorescent microscopes to understand how this pathogen damaged DNA. They then discovered that it induced a particular form of damage to the DNA itself by taking control of DNA repair machines and making cells more susceptible to infection, in practice accelerating their aging.

DNA repair “machines” are molecules inside the cells that constantly protect our DNA when it is threatened by environmental factors such as ultraviolet light or smoke. By attacking these molecules, the typhoid pathogen causes serious damage that damages cellular DNA.

Daniel Humphreys, one of the authors of the study, comments on the results: “Our results have shown that pathogenic bacteria can accelerate cell aging through a toxin and take advantage of it to establish infections. This makes sense because infections are often more difficult to fight and recover as we age, which is partly due to cellular aging, but the fact that bacterial pathogens affect this phenomenon was unexpected.”

Another author of the study, Sherif El-Khamisy, a researcher at the Healthy Lifespan Institute at the University of England, comments: “Until now, how Salmonella typhi’s typhoid toxin contributed to the infection was a mystery. If we want to fight typhoid, understanding how the toxin causes breakage in the DNA of human cells and promotes infection is key and we hope this discovery will be the first step in developing new strategies to control typhoid, which affects some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.”

Researcher Angela Ibler was also involved in the research.

Links/Sources:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12064-1

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]
Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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