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National Brain Research Centre-led team of researchers has successfully identified the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which Zika virus causes microcephaly.

When the Zika virus infects unborn babies, it reduces the pool of brain cells in the foetus. As a result, the baby is born with a condition called microcephaly in which the head size of the baby is significantly smaller than a normal baby.

The researchers found the envelop protein (E protein) of the virus, which is responsible for the entry of the virus into brain stem cells, was responsible for arresting the proliferation of human foetal neural stem cells and also killing the cells that were becoming neuron-like.

The combined effect reduces the pool of foetal brain cells leading to smaller size of the brain.

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito mainly Aedes Aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits Dengue, Chikungunya and Yellow fever.

National Brain Research Centre is located in Gurugram.


1. Consider the following statements:

1. In tropical regions, Zika virus disease is transmitted by the same mosquito that transmitted dengue.

2. Sexual transmission of Zika virus disease is possible.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer (c) Both 1 and 2

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