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3D printing holds the key to Zika virus?

by • April 25, 2016 • No Comments

The Zika virus hit the news in a big way this last year. This cruel epidemic has devastated families throughout South America and there is a real accident it may spread, but 3D printing and Johns Hopkins University can have the answer.

The virus is a spread by mosquitoes and in many cases the worst sufferers can experience is a rash and a fever. For pregnant women, yet, the consequences can be disastrous as it can affect their unborn child and outcome in an abnormally small head and an underdeveloped brain.

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A global epidemic in the producing?

The World Health Organization declared it a global health emergency and warned that the virus may easily spread to Europe and the US when the warmer weather sweeps in and the mosquitoes come out in force. One thing is certain, it is on the rise.

Essentially it is a race against time to find a vaccine or treatment as a few day the virus can spread beyond South America.

3D printed ‘brains’ are swift and effortless

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered a way to create small brains, literally the size of a pinhead, with a bioprinter. They can and so infect these organoids with the Zika virus. It is a swift way to analyse how Zika in fact works, so the researchers can set to work on a defence mechanism.

Researchers refuse to donate up

The same research team tried to study Zika in two size in the past, via tissue cultures. The group, led by Professor Guo-Li Ming and Hongjun Song, was able-bodied to ascertain that Zika attacks neural stem cells, but they were severely limited by the testing method and only mayn’t learn adequate to work on a cure or a vaccine.

The latest study, that was published in Cell, a journal of cellular biology and biomedical science, utilized miniature spinning bioreactors. These created several ‘mini brains’, of stem cells, that were functional adequate for the purposes of the test.

The team created and worked with three various types of tissue, fundamentally representing the forebrain, midbrain and hypothalamus. This tissue may survive in lab conditions for 100 days, that is an astounding feat in itself and gave the researchers time to study the ongoing consequences of the Zika virus.

bioreactor unit

Zika attacks stem cells and the cortex

Essentially, the Johns Hopkins University team confirmed its two-dimensional outcomes and now know for certain that Zika attacks the neural stem cells and stunts the growth of the cortex. This is the outer layer of the brain, that is responsible for memory and the individual’s attention span.

One other outcome of the tests was that a child who encounters the Zika virus in the initially trimester is many most likely to be severely affected. So if a mother is bitten by a mosquito in the 2nd or third trimester, there is a accident they can escape unscathed.

Interestingly, while it’s considered common knowledge that mosquitoes are responsible for the illness, the research team is determined to stay methodical.

Studies of fetuses and babies with the tell-tale small brains and heads of microcephaly in Zika-affected areas have discovered abnormalities in the cortex, and Zika virus has been discovered in the fetal tissue,” said Dr. Ming. “While this study does not unquestionably prove that Zika virus causes microcephaly, it’s quite telling that the cells that form the cortex are potentially susceptible to the virus, and their growth may be disrupted by the virus.

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Now we know Zika, we have to beat it

Of course knowing the Zika virus is only the initially step. The future phase is in fact stopping the destruction it causes. The team can go on with their 3d printed brains, testing a number of compounds and known antiviral agents to create a cure or a vaccine that can prevent this hideous virus bringing hold on the world.

The team can in addition publish their method for creating the 3D-printed bioreactors, that can allow other scientists to use their methods.

Whatever takes place with the Zika virus, the researchers at Johns Hopkins University have created a primary breakthrough and these miniature brains may be responsible for curing a few of the many debilitating conditions known to man.

One way or another, they have may already done excellent work.

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