NEIDL Researchers Create Tool to Study New Virus

in Featured, In The News, Lab Updates
September 5th, 2018

In recent years, traces of new zoonotic viruses—pathogens that live in animals and could potentially cause infectious diseases in humans—have been discovered in bats, fish, and other species around the world. But scientists have been stumped in their search for the complete genome for these viruses, the critical data that is needed to study their biology, and their potential dangers for humans.

But now, researchers at BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) have created a tool that they say will unlock many of the mysteries of one of these new pathogens—a filovirus closely related to the Ebola and Marburg viruses—and help them determine whether it could cause disease in humans. Ebola and Marburg are among the most virulent and lethal viruses known to infect humans.

Called Lloviu virus (LLOV), the new filovirus was first discovered in 2002 in dead bats in a cave in Spain; it was found again in 2014, in dead bats in Hungary. It is not known whether LLOV sickened and killed the European bats (known as Schreiber’s long-fingered bats, they are not found in North or South America) or if it causes disease in any animal. As with so many other new viruses, the complete genome has not been found.

The NEIDL team was led by Elke Mühlberger, a School of Medicine associate professor of microbiology, who is one of the world’s leading filovirus researchers. Filoviruses are made up of single-stranded RNA instead of DNA.

Click to read full article on BU Today