NIH calls for applications to study Zika virus in pregnancy and fetuses

The National Institutes of Health last week announced it is seeking research applications for projects focused on Zika virus during pregnancy and fetal development.

In a press release, NIH wrote:

One of the highest priorities is to establish conclusively what role, if any, Zika virus has played in the marked increase in suspected microcephaly cases. In Brazil, more than 4,000 microcephaly cases have been reported since October 2015, up from 147 known cases in 2014. It is possible that these microcephaly cases could have another cause, or that a contributing factor in addition to Zika virus –another virus, for example — could be leading to the condition.

Given recent reports that Zika virus may be sexually transmitted, studies also are needed to determine if the virus is present in reproductive fluids, such as semen or vaginal secretions, and whether it can cause infection via the reproductive tract. Evidence from such studies might prove important in informing guidance for preventing the spread of Zika virus through intimate contact, particularly for women who are pregnant or likely to become pregnant. Additionally, these studies may indicate whether the virus poses a hazard for in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproductive procedures. Other studies of interest would investigate whether Zika virus infection affects long-term fertility in men and women and poses a risk for future pregnancies.

The notice was issued by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

The full notice can be found here.

Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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