By Leila Gray
Insect-transmitted viruses, like Powassan and West Nile, which can attack the brain in some cases, are becoming a growing public health concern. Medical scientists are trying to understand how brain cells try to fend off invading viruses.
Recently they have learned that, in a turnabout, a biochemical self-destruct trigger found in many other types of cells appears to guard the lives of brain cells during infection with West Nile virus.
UW Medicine scientists who this led research found that this chemical pathway doesn’t have to sacrifice brain cells to destroy the viruses and recruit the body’s defenses against infection.
The findings are reported in the Cell paper, “RIPK3 Restricts Viral Pathogenesis via Cell Death-Independent Neuroinflammation.” Michael Gale, Jr., PhD, Adjunct Professor of Global Health is a co-author on the paper.