Cure to Zika virus may become a reality thanks to Indian scientist Rajnish Giri and his research on the virus’ structure

24th Oct 2018
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Dr Rajnish Giri and his team have successfully identified the regions of the virus protein responsible for human virus interaction.

Indian scientist Dr. Rajnish Giri has been studying the protein structure of the Zika virus at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi of Himachal Pradesh. He is further assisted by Vladimir Uversky from the University of South Florida and research scholar Pushpendra Mani Mishra.

Dr. Rajnish Giri, source The Week

The team used computational research and biophysical studies to unravel the structure of the virus molecule and made a breakthrough by identifying its critical internal regions. This research was later published in the Journal of Molecular Biology.

Dr. Rajnish’s study addresses the regions of the Zika virus molecule that are responsible for its interaction with a human host.

Earlier, this research proved to be a time-consuming and complex task as the virus had to be grown in the laboratory. Recent developments in Bioinformatics, a new branch of science allows scientists to use the database of viral proteins and genes and performs an instant computational analysis.

In an interview with The Tribune, the doctor says,

“Viral bioinformatics has, in turn, offered fresh perspectives in the design of drugs and therapeutic methods to combat virus-borne illness”

He added, “We are using molecular recognition feature (MRF) analysing computational tools to identify the MRF regions in proteins of the virus. We have used protein information from a Zika virus protein database called UniProt, as a reference to confirm the protein sequence in a strain of Zika, called Mr 766. The disorderliness of the cofactor region (NS2B Region) of a particular enzyme protein (NS2B-NS3) has been confirmed using a technique called circular dichroism spectroscopy.”

Since 2006, evidence of Zika virus has been reported by 70 countries and territories. It primarily spreads through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The catastrophic outcomes have largely affected pregnant women, and several cases were also reported in India.

The virus inhabits a zone between the non-living and the living, where it finds a host to replicate for survival. Similarly, it can replicate itself inside the human host and disrupts nerve cells.

The most common victims are fetuses because their nerve cells are still under formation. It has many severe impacts that can result in miscarriages, stillbirth, and deformations of brain or microcephaly.

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