Zika Virus
A health worker prepares insecticide before fumigating a neighborhood in San Juan, in this January 27, 2016, file photo. Researchers around the world are now convinced the Zika virus can cause the birth defect microcephaly as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis, the World Health Organization said on March 31, 2016. Reuters/Alvin Baez

Indian girl Devika Sirohi was the youngest member of a US team of seven scientists that helped determine the structure of the deadly zika virus. The 29-year-old Sirohi, a doctoral student at Purdue University, is from Meerut, India. She is hopeful that this new breakthrough will help in the development of effective zika treatments.

Speaking to Times of India, Sirohi related the painful hours of research and how all the hard work has finally paid off.

“It took us four months to identify the structure of the virus. Out of the seven-member team, three were professors and four students, including me. During the period of the research, we barely slept for two to three hours a day, but our hard work finally paid off. This discovery will help doctors and researchers to find a cure for the deadly disease that has been reported in 33 countries,” Sirohi said.

The findings of the study have been most promising and Sirohi hopes the findings would help in developing effective anti-viral treatments and vaccines.

“Now that the structure has been determined, it will be easier to research further and combat the spread of the disease,” added Sirohi, who is based in West Lafayette near Chicago and pursuing PhD in “Structure and Maturation of Flaviviruses.”

The zika virus has been linked to various neurological disorders including microcephaly in newborns. The new research, which Sirohi was part of, thankfully revealed some of the virus’ liabilities and weaknesses. This would be instrumental in developing a vaccine for the deadly disease.

The researchers also identified differences between the zika virus and other flaviviruses such as tick-borne encephalitis virus, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever and dengue. Most of these viruses never reach the nervous system. However, the zika virus does affect the nervous system.