The Zika virus essentially causes a fetus’s brain to attack itself early in a pregnancy, according to new research at the University of California San Diego. Scientists there grew mini brains to study the effects of the mosquito-borne virus on the developing brains of fetuses, and they now think there might be a way to stop the process, reports Zoë Schlanger
The researchers were surprised to find that the virus didn’t directly attack the brain but caused the developing brain’s own immune system to destroy itself.
Tariq Rana, a professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine, is hoping that his team will ultimately identify the right TLR3 inhibitors—already used to treat other autoimmune diseases—to use on pregnant women in order to to reduce the damage to their babies.
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