Another Zika Update & Quantum Physics Gamers | Summary and Q&A

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April 15, 2016
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Another Zika Update & Quantum Physics Gamers

TL;DR

Scientists have discovered strong evidence that Zika virus can infect developing brain cells, potentially causing microcephaly. Meanwhile, researchers are using a game called Quantum Moves to crowdsource solutions for quantum computing problems.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does Zika virus cause microcephaly?

Zika virus targets and infects neural stem cells in developing brains, affecting neural cell growth and survival. This results in abnormal brain development and microcephaly.

Q: How did researchers confirm that it's specifically Zika virus causing brain cell damage?

To confirm Zika's role in brain cell damage, researchers compared neural stem cells infected with Zika to those infected with dengue virus. Only Zika-infected cells exhibited significant damage, providing evidence of the virus's specific impact.

Q: How are non-experts contributing to quantum physics research?

Through a game called Quantum Moves, non-experts are helping scientists solve quantum computing problems. By playing the game and finding innovative solutions to moving atoms with laser beams, these players contribute to the development of quantum computers.

Q: What advantages do citizen scientists offer in scientific research?

Citizen scientists can bring unique perspectives and problem-solving skills to scientific research. They excel in tasks that involve image analysis and spatial puzzle solving, making them valuable contributors to complex problems.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • A recent study published in the journal Science provides the strongest evidence yet that Zika virus can cause microcephaly by infecting developing brain cells.

  • The study shows that Zika affects neural cell growth and survival, leading to abnormal brain development. The virus was found to target and infect neural stem cells.

  • Another study demonstrates that Zika virus affects cerebral organoids, mini-brains that resemble those of a first-trimester fetus, resulting in smaller and malformed organoids.

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