Team VIRAL is an undergraduate research team part of the Gemstone Honors Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. All members of the team are part of the class of 2026, and we conduct research with Children's National Hospital.
Our team has undertaken groundbreaking research focused on the activation and inhibition of autophagy and the lysosome as potential therapeutic avenues for addressing prenatal Zika virus infection. This research represents a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex interactions between viral infections, cellular processes, and potential therapeutic interventions.
Prenatal Zika virus infection is a global health concern due to its devastating impact on developing fetuses, often leading to serious neurological complications, including microcephaly. To address this urgent issue, Team VIRAL's research has delved into the intricate molecular mechanisms underlying Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
Autophagy is a cellular process responsible for recycling damaged or unnecessary cellular components and maintaining cellular homeostasis. Lysosomes are essential organelles responsible for breaking down cellular waste and foreign invaders, like viruses. The team's focus on autophagy and lysosomes is rooted in the recognition of their pivotal roles in immune responses against viral infections.
Team VIRAL hopes to explore the dynamic relationship between the Zika virus and these cellular mechanisms. Our aim in research is to investigate how the virus may manipulate or evade autophagy and lysosomal pathways to facilitate its replication. This knowledge is instrumental in developing potential therapeutic strategies to disrupt the virus's life cycle and prevent its adverse effects on developing fetuses.
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Through your donations and support, we can kickstart our research towards the development of novel treatments and preventative measures for prenatal Zika virus infection and similar viral threats!
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