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Modeling Zika virus transmission from mother to child using uterine mini-organs Wiwatpanit, Teerawat, and Bunpote Siridechadilok.. National Center for Genetic Engineering and BIotechnology (BIOTEC), Thailand, 14 Nov 2019. Experiment
We will be using uterine mini-organs (endometrial organoids) to understand the mechanism of Zika virus infection within the uterus and how it can transmit from the uterus to infect the infant, causing brain defects upon birth. To mimic the true physiology of the human body, we will grow these organoids in varying levels of hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) similar to the hormone profile of a full 28-day menstrual cycle. Once we determine the basis of Zika virus infection in the organoids, we will use this as a model to screen for factors that can neutralize Zika virus infection in the uterus. We hypothesize that once we can neutralize Zika virus infection in the uterus, we would be able to block viral transmission to the infant during pregnancy.
In addition, our team are reaching out to local hospitals to inform and recruit potential volunteers for our cause. This will also help raise awareness of the hidden danger of Zika virus among pregnant mothers. We are hoping that our efforts to inform the public of our cause will help us a step further to stop the spread of Zika virus within the community.
Our team includes experts in bioengineering, virology, immunology and Zika virus genetics as well as obstetrics and gynecology clinicians. We are confident that with all of us together, we can drive this research towards success, and be a step further to stop Zika virus infection altogether.
This project relies on the use of biopsies from patients who are already undergoing hysterectomy. Hence, the availability of biopsies from volunteers can be limited. However, we are already coordinating with local hospitals to inform and recruit potential volunteers for our cause. We have collaborated with clinicians previously and were able to obtain enough samples to generate endometrial organoids for our previous study. We expect that we will be able to obtain enough samples for this project as well.
In addition, because there is no added risks to our volunteers for the collection of biopsies after their hysterectomy, we expect that the recruiting process with the volunteers will go smoothly.
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