The Union Ministry of Science & Technology said on Monday that a study conducted by Indian scientists have recently found that cancer-causing Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) affects the glial cells or the non-neural cells in the central nervous system (CNS) and alters molecules like phospho-inositols (PIP) when the virus infects the brain cells.

The findings could pave the way towards understanding the probable role of the virus in neurodegenerative pathologies, especially given the fact that the virus has been detected in the brain tissue of the patients suffering from neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and multiple Sclerosis.

The EBV can cause cancers like nasopharyngeal carcinoma (a type of head and neck cancer), B-cell (a type of white blood cells) cancer, stomach cancer, Burkett’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, post-transplant lymphoid disorders, and so on.

However, the infection is mostly asymptomatic, and very little is known about the factors which trigger the development of such a disease. It was the detection of the virus in patients with neurodegenerative diseases that triggered the search for the mechanism of propagation of the virus.

Scientists’ teams from the Departments of Physics nd Biosciences and Biomedical Engineering at IIT Indore along with their collaborator, Fouzia Siraj, at the National Institute of Pathology (ICMR), New Delhi, used the Raman Spectroscopy System supported by the Fund for Improvement of S&T Infrastructure (FIST), a scheme of the Department of Science and Technology, to trace the propagation mechanism of the virus.

The study, based on spatial and temporal changes in the Raman signal, was helpful in advancing the application of Raman Scattering as a technique for rapid and non-invasive detection of virus infection in clinical settings.

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