Tech Digest

Zika Panic May Accelerate Cure for CMV Birth Defects

Stay Up to Date!

Simply enter your email below and click SIGN UP!

From Bioscience Expert Patrick Cox - The Most Life-Changing Book You'll Read This Year - Click Here

November 7, 2016

Dear Reader,

It’s a sign of the times. The Japanese company Bibilab is selling a washable Zika protection suit. Available in three colors, the 6,600 yen ($65 US) garment isn’t a bad idea for pregnant women living in areas where mosquitos carry Zika. But in the long run, it won’t matter much.

I’ve spoken with several scientists studying Zika and other virus diseases in the past few weeks. All of them suspect that Zika would continue to be a threat to the US even if mosquito populations were completely eliminated. This is because the Zika virus doesn’t actually need mosquitos to spread.

Human carriers may spread Zika via sexual transmission, kissing, or even aerosol transmission (from a cough or sneeze). In fact, more of the recent Zika infections have come from humans than mosquitos.

Zika is hard to track down in humans because most of the infected don’t know they are carriers. Few people have symptoms, and they often mistake Zika for colds or other less serious illnesses. At this point, the virus may have spread too far to stop.

The Zika virus, like the rhinovirus that causes colds, may already be endemic to North American human populations. This puts everyone at risk for contracting it. This is true even in colder climes where people think they are protected. Worse, it’s makes it impossible for a pregnant woman to know if her spouse or a child might become vectors.

CMV is the number one cause of birth defects in the West

If there is an upside to the Zika virus, it’s that the general public now knows that a virus can cause birth defects. For most people, that is an entirely new and startling idea. But, pediatricians know that CMV (cytomegalovirus) is the number one cause of birth defects in the West.

Mosquitos don’t transmit CMV. We do. About half of North Americans are CMV carriers. If a carrier exposes a pregnant woman who has never been infected in her first trimester, it’s almost certain that her child will suffer serious birth defects involving brain, hearing, or visual damage.

Each year, about 20,000 Americans give birth to children with birth defects caused by CMV. More than a quarter of them are extremely serious and cost our healthcare system more than a billion dollars annually.

Those of us who have been exposed to CMV have developed an immunity. This prevents cold-like symptoms in healthy adults… but we still have the virus in our systems.

This ability to survive an immune response is characteristic of the herpes virus family, including CMV. Shingles, for example, is a reemergence of the varicella zoster or chickenpox virus (also a herpes virus). This means that CMV can be transmitted via sex or blood transfusion. If a pregnant woman or immunosuppressed child is exposed, the outcome can be terrible.

This raises an obvious question. Why isn’t CMV getting the kind of attention and funding that the Zika virus is getting?

Public outcry propels medical breakthroughs

The answer, in part, is that our public health institutions respond to political pressures. Because the public is generally unaware of the CMV risk, there hasn’t been much pressure to fund solutions. But that has begun to change in recent months. Articles in Nature, the New York Times, and elsewhere are telling people about the greater CMV threat.

In fact, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the North American public health body that sets vaccination policy, has stated that an effective CMV vaccine would be recommended for universal coverage with reimbursement. European health authorities have said the same thing.

This is good news for expectant mothers. It also gives investors an incentive to risk money on a CMV vaccine or drug. And there are at least a half dozen companies who are looking at CMV as a therapeutic target. Moreover, their tools are next-generation biotechnologies. These have a much better chance of success than the obsolete vaccine technologies of the past. They range from DNA vaccines and enveloped virus-like particles to polymer-ligand conjugates that can clear viruses directly from the bloodstream.

I’m reminded of the Polish scientist Stefania Jabłońska, who met great skepticism when she showed a connection between the human papillomavirus and skin cancer in 1972. Today, HPV is accepted as the primary cause of cervical cancer as well as head and neck cancer. Several companies are targeting HPV for potential cures.

It turns out, by the way, that CMV also has a cancer connection. Many cancers, including deadly gliomas, occur primarily in people who have been infected by CMV. This raises the possibility that the virus may also provide a target for cancer scientists.

Patrick Cox
Patrick Cox
Editor, Transformational Technology Alert

Mauldin Economics


Stay in the Loop on Life-Extending Research
with Patrick Cox's Tech Digest

Tech Digest

Your privacy is very important to us. Please review our Privacy Policy.


« Back to Articles

From Bioscience Expert Patrick Cox - The Most Life-Changing Book You'll Read This Year - Click Here

Discuss This

We welcome your comments. Please comply with our Community Rules.


There are no comments at this time.

Use of this content, the Mauldin Economics website, and related sites and applications is provided under the Mauldin Economics Terms & Conditions of Use.

Unauthorized Disclosure Prohibited

The information provided in this publication is private, privileged, and confidential information, licensed for your sole individual use as a subscriber. Mauldin Economics reserves all rights to the content of this publication and related materials. Forwarding, copying, disseminating, or distributing this report in whole or in part, including substantial quotation of any portion the publication or any release of specific investment recommendations, is strictly prohibited.
Participation in such activity is grounds for immediate termination of all subscriptions of registered subscribers deemed to be involved at Mauldin Economics’ sole discretion, may violate the copyright laws of the United States, and may subject the violator to legal prosecution. Mauldin Economics reserves the right to monitor the use of this publication without disclosure by any electronic means it deems necessary and may change those means without notice at any time. If you have received this publication and are not the intended subscriber, please contact


The Mauldin Economics website, Thoughts from the Frontline, The Weekly Profit, The 10th Man, Connecting the Dots, Transformational Technology Digest, Over My Shoulder, Yield Shark, Transformational Technology Alert, Rational Bear, Street Freak, ETF 20/20, In the Money, and Mauldin Economics VIP are published by Mauldin Economics, LLC Information contained in such publications is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The information contained in such publications is not intended to constitute individual investment advice and is not designed to meet your personal financial situation. The opinions expressed in such publications are those of the publisher and are subject to change without notice. The information in such publications may become outdated and there is no obligation to update any such information. You are advised to discuss with your financial advisers your investment options and whether any investment is suitable for your specific needs prior to making any investments.
John Mauldin, Mauldin Economics, LLC and other entities in which he has an interest, employees, officers, family, and associates may from time to time have positions in the securities or commodities covered in these publications or web site. Corporate policies are in effect that attempt to avoid potential conflicts of interest and resolve conflicts of interest that do arise in a timely fashion.
Mauldin Economics, LLC reserves the right to cancel any subscription at any time, and if it does so it will promptly refund to the subscriber the amount of the subscription payment previously received relating to the remaining subscription period. Cancellation of a subscription may result from any unauthorized use or reproduction or rebroadcast of any Mauldin Economics publication or website, any infringement or misappropriation of Mauldin Economics, LLC’s proprietary rights, or any other reason determined in the sole discretion of Mauldin Economics, LLC.

Affiliate Notice

Mauldin Economics has affiliate agreements in place that may include fee sharing. If you have a website or newsletter and would like to be considered for inclusion in the Mauldin Economics affiliate program, please go to Likewise, from time to time Mauldin Economics may engage in affiliate programs offered by other companies, though corporate policy firmly dictates that such agreements will have no influence on any product or service recommendations, nor alter the pricing that would otherwise be available in absence of such an agreement. As always, it is important that you do your own due diligence before transacting any business with any firm, for any product or service.

© Copyright 2018 Mauldin Economics