Tuesday, 14 June 2016 19:03

Zika Zoo

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When we decided to work on Zika virus in February 2016, experiments in mice were certainly part of our plans. However, one does not simply walk into a mouse facility and start inoculating animals with viruses! Carrying out animal experiments requires approval of a detailed protocol by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). I have filed many IACUC protocols in the past 30 years, and to work on Zika virus in mice, we had to file a new one. Here is how the process works.
Thursday, 09 June 2016 13:18

Zika Virus One-step

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What are we doing with all the different strains of Zika virus that we have collected? One of the questions we are asking is whether these Zika virus isolates have different growth properties in a variety of human cell lines. To answer this question, we use a well-established technique, one-step growth analysis.
Thursday, 02 June 2016 12:40

We were ready for Zika virus!

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During a recent press conference at ASM Headquarters in Washington, DC, a reporter asked a panel of virologists why, considering all the research that has been done on flaviviruses, Zika virus has caught us by surprise. I could barely resist jumping up from my seat and shouting “We might have been surprised, but we are more than ready to make rapid progress.”
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 17:15

Zika Virus Inside Cells

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While the plaque assay that we developed for Zika virus is invaluable for determining the amount of infectious virus in a sample, we would also like to detect the virus as it replicates within cells. We have found that immunofluorescence assays using an antibody to double-stranded RNA is a good way to find Zika virus RNA inside cells.
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 14:49

Zika Virus and Preprint Servers

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There is a new wrinkle in the process of publishing papers in the biological sciences, and it’s about to be validated by Zika virus.
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 17:34

Zika Virus On and In the Brain

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Now that my laboratory obtained a number of different Zika virus isolates, and learned how to grow them in cells in culture and determine the virus titer by plaque assay, it’s time to start doing experiments. Our first thoughts were to leverage our experience studying poliovirus to understand whether Zika virus can infect the brain.
Monday, 02 May 2016 20:36

Counting Zika Virus

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Last time on Zika Diaries, I recounted how we had obtained different strains of Zika virus. The next step was to make more of them. To do that we needed cells that can be infected with the virus, and a way to measure the amount of virus made.
Monday, 25 April 2016 21:11

Finding Zika Virus

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After making the decision to work on Zika virus in my laboratory, the next step was to acquire stocks of the virus. In the process I learned that a number of investigators were refusing to share their samples of Zika virus with other laboratories.
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 22:11

Moving to Zika Virus

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I have worked on polio virus in his laboratory at Columbia University for 35 years. When that virus is eradicated--perhaps in the next few years--we will have to destroy all of our virus stocks. When that happens, I can either go home, or find another virus.
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