March 15, 2015 – Infection Timing
Anchor lead: At what point during pregnancy is Zika virus infection most troublesome? Elizabeth Tracey reports
A model of neuron development created by researchers at Johns Hopkins and two other institutions has pointed the way toward greater understanding of how Zika virus infection may be related to microcephaly in babies. Guo-li Ming, a professor of neurology, neuroscience, psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins, describes the possible link.
Ming: Usually the major development of the nervous system is happening during the first trimester. This neuroprogenitor cells are actually formed mostly during the first trimester. If there’s cell death, caused directly or indirectly by viral infection, that actually potentially can have a profound effect on later neurodevelopment and the formation of the brain. This study does not show that. This is the next step we would like to look into. :28
Ming and colleagues hope their model will help advance understanding of Zika virus infection and perhaps develop interventions that help. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.