Columbia University releases latest Zika virus update with Dr. Vincent Racaniello

The update covers the latest in Zika virus transmission across the placenta, what scientists are doing to better understand it, and more.

May 26th, 2016
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Scientists have mapped the structure of the Zika virus
(video screenshot).

Columbia University Medical Center has just released a Q&A with Vincent Racaniello, PhD, who is the Higgins Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University. He and his lab are working on the front lines of Zika research.

Some of the most interesting findings in his update:

  • Scientists are not yet sure how the Zika virus passes through the human placenta, as only a few viruses are able to do this. He says, "One does not simply walk into the placenta. That’s taking from a cultural meme, Lord of the Rings. One does not simply walk into the placenta because the placenta’s surrounded by a layer of cells called trophoblasts, which are very resistant to virus infection. So a virus can’t simply cross the placenta and that’s why most viruses do not get into the developing fetus."
  • The CDC has recently announced that it is "convinced" that Zika does, in fact, cause microcephaly.
  • He's not worried that there will be an extensive Zika outbreak in the United States: "I don’t think we’re going to have extensive spread of Zika virus in the US but we should be ready for it, in any case."

To watch the video and read a transcript of the interview, click here.

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