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NEW DELHI : A virus present widely in humans can cause diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) as well as brain cancer, a study by scientists of IIT Indore has found.

The scientists claimed that cancer-causing virus Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) could infect the neuronal cells leading to diseases of both these types, the Union Ministry of Science and Technology said on Monday.

The scientists worked for the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Fund for Improvement of S&T Infrastructure (FIST) scheme to explore the possible impacts of cancer-causing EBV on brain cells.

The study, published in the latest issue of ACS Chemical Neuroscience, shows that there could be timely and gradual changes in the neuronal cells under viral influence. The scientists utilized the Raman microspectroscopy technique, a simple, cost-effective tool to find sensitive chemical changes in biological samples.

“EBV has been found to be widely present in the human population. It usually does not cause any harm, but the virus gets reactivated inside the body in some unusual conditions like immunological stress or immunocompetence. This may further lead to various complications like a type of blood cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma, stomach cancer, multiple sclerosis and so on," stated the government release.

“The research work aids in the understanding of EBV-mediated biomolecular changes in the various compartments of the central nervous system leading to better understanding of nervous system diseases," said Dr. Hem Chandra Jha, the team leader from Infection Bioengineering group at IIT Indore.

Experts say that earlier studies provided links to EBV involvement in various neurodegenerative diseases. However, how this virus can affect the cells of the brain and manipulate them is still unexplored.

“This study is also helpful in establishing the advantages of Raman microspectroscopy, a cost-effective and non-invasive technique, in carrying out studies on virus-associated cellular complications in clinical settings. It could provide an upper hand in analysing clinical samples in comparison to other techniques, which require advanced setups for studying the virus-associated changes in cells, tissues, and organs," said Prof Rajesh Kumar.

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