Holy Cross Alumnus Researching Protein that can ‘Swallow Up and Quarantine’ Zika Virus

Science Daily

George Savidis ’12, who is conducting research on the Zika virus, was recently the first author on a study that is shedding light on a breakthrough in treating the virus, Science Daily reports.

Savidis, a biology major with a concentration in biochem at Holy Cross, is currently a research associate in the lab of Abraham Brass, assistant professor of microbiology and physiological systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Savidis has been working with Brass on a study involving interferon-induced protein 3 (IFITM3), a very small protein in the human body that can reduce the ability of Zika virus to infect human and mouse cells, according to the article.

Based on the study’s findings, the article says, finding ways to boost IFITM3 in the human body may inhibit the Zika virus and other emerging viral infections. “In effect, we see that IFITM3 allows our cells to swallow up and quarantine the virus, thereby stopping their own infection, and also the infection of neighboring cells," Savidis explains in the article. "We think this also reduces the levels of cell death caused by Zika virus.”

Savidis says this work shows that IFITM3 acts as an “early front line defender to prevent Zika virus from getting its hands on all of the resources in our cells that it needs to grow” and that “IFITM3 pretty much keeps Zika virus stuck in no man's land where it can't do anything to harm us."

Read the full article at Science Daily’s website.

This “Holy Cross in the News” item is by Jessica Kennedy.