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Old ideas and new technologies decode viral latency

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) infects most of the world’s adult population, and while commonly thought of as a childhood disease (chickenpox), it remains a significant source of morbidity later in life due to its ability to establish life-long latency in sensory neurons of peripheral ganglia. In up to 30% of VZV-infected individuals, the virus will reactivate later in life to cause a different disease (shingles) that can include serious neurological complications including a chronic persistent pain condition termed post-herpetic neuralgia. Understanding and intervening against the mechanisms that allow viral reactivation remains a priority for researchers worldwide.

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