Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) say they have found that interferon-induced protein 3 (IFITM3) can dramatically reduce the ability of Zika virus to infect human and mouse cells. In some cases, IFITM3 can also prevent Zika virus from killing our cells.
IFITM3 blocks Zika virus infection. When human cells are exposed to Zika virus they are overwhelmingly infected, as seen by the large number of green cells (left panel). When IFITM3 levels were boosted in these cells, the same amount of virus was prevented from replicating (right panel). [BrassLab/UMass Medical School]
“This work represents the first look at how our cells defend themselves against Zika virus’ attack,” said Dr. Brass. “Our results show that Zika virus has a weakness that we could potentially exploit to prevent or stop infection.”