Directly comparing Zika-infected cells with uninfected cells reveals the effect the virus is having
Although it could easily be mistaken for a work of art, this image is actually showing you a sample of human immune cells (blue), some of which are invested with the Zika virus (red). The virus affects many different cells, but how it damages and kills them isn’t clear. Researchers recently developed a new method to label Zika-infected immune cells. By separating infected from uninfected cells in the same sample, the team can compare the two directly and by looking at the differences, understand what the virus is doing. The technique provides a comprehensive account of the effect Zika is having on immune cells, in particular how it prevents them from activating certain genes that would enhance the body’s immune defence. In future, this method could be applied to tag cells infected with other viruses.
Written by Gaëlle Coullon
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.