Waukesha, Wisconsin — Recent studies highlighted in The Scientist, News Medical and DoctorsLounge have implicated an understudied and underappreciated family of viruses as playing a potential role in women’s health complications. During the 2015 outbreak of Zika virus infections in Brazil, it was discovered that Zika virus infection during pregnancy places the fetus at risk of developing neurologic birth defects. This new study suggests that Zika may not be the only virus capable of causing abnormalities in babies born to infected mothers. The study provides compelling evidence that two other viruses closely-related to Zika, mosquito-borne West Nile virus and tick-borne Powassan virus, have the ability to cause a range of mild to severe brain damage in the fetuses of mice infected during pregnancy. Powassan and West Nile viruses were also found to infect and replicate readily in human placental tissue samples (doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aao7090).
“These studies implicate previously unsuspected viral agents as potential causes of fertility and pregnancy complications,” said Dr. Konstance Knox, CEO of Coppe Laboratories. “The findings stress the importance of screening women planning pregnancy for recent exposure to these viral disease agents to help guard against fetal abnormalities and poor pregnancy outcomes. Our laboratory has studied this this family of viruses for many years, and their ability to interfere with fetal development is consistent with their biology and personality.”
Coppe Laboratories: Specialists in Infectious Disease Complications in Women’s Health
Coppe Laboratories’ offers screening tests for West Nile and the only commercially-available tests for Powassan virus. Coppe’s recent publication in mSphere details the serologic test panel developed to detect antibodies to Powassan virus in patient blood samples (http://msphere.asm.org/content/3/1/e00467-17.article-info). The CDC recommends screening pregnant women who suspect they may have had exposure to Zika virus at each prenatal visit. Coppe Laboratories is the only commercial lab in the US that offers prenatal screening tests for both West Nile and Powassan virus.
In 2016, Coppe Laboratories and collaborators reported the results of a retrospective analysis of patients with suspected Lyme disease who were also tested for co-infection with Powassan virus using the published test method. Of the 41 patients with evidence of acute Lyme disease, seven (17.1%) tested positive for Powassan exposure, providing strong evidence that subclinical infection with Powassan virus often goes undiagnosed (https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2308.161971).
In addition to Coppe’s specialized tests for arboviruses linked to abnormal fetal development, a study published in PLOS Pathogens (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal. pone.0158304) found evidence of human herpesvirus 6 in 43% of women with unexplained infertility. The ability of HHV-6 to disrupt the uterine environment and fetal development may result in infertility and pregnancy loss. The virus has only been detected in uterine epithelial cells and not in blood samples using traditional testing methods. Coppe Laboratories’ proprietary
HHV-6 test has proven to be the most sensitive method for detection of active HHV-6 replication in endometrial tissue samples from these patients.
Coppe Laboratories uses their scientific expertise to transform novel procedures routinely used in the research setting into high-complexity, CLIA-certified diagnostic tests. This work, in conjunction with groundbreaking research and development, makes Coppe Laboratories a leading provider of diagnostic tests with diverse applications.