New York University biologist Elodie Ghedin will study the host response to Zika virus infections under a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"The immune mechanisms associated with severe and mild disease induced by Zika virus are currently unknown--no biomarkers have yet been identified that are clearly associated with disease severity," explains Ghedin, a professor in NYU's Department of Biology and College of Global Public Health. "The goal of our research is to find key drivers of disease severity, but also to identify predictive biomarkers that will help identify patients that are at risk for developing neurological problems due to Zika."
The grant supplements an existing research program backed by the institute -- the Influenza Dynamic Network Modeling Project (FluDyNeMo), which is composed of investigators from across the U.S. and Canada. Their research is examining influenza infections with the aim of identifying key drivers of disease severity and biomarkers predictive of severe disease.
The exact mechanisms underlying Zika virus disease severity are not understood. The FluDyNeMo program is focused on identifying predictive biomarkers for infectious diseases through the generation and integration of immunological data from human samples of infection and disease.
"By developing predictive, causal models that relate biological processes and key targets to physiological responses," notes Ghedin, "we will shed light on mechanisms of Zika virus infection that lead to severe or mild disease outcomes as well as on individual responses to Zika virus infection."
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