Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have become the first to successfully grow a norovirus in the lab. In humans, noroviruses are a highly contagious source of diarrhea, vomiting and other stomach upset that made headlines two years ago after a series of repeated outbreaks on cruise ships. These viruses are a major cause of human disease worldwide.
Researchers showed that the mouse norovirus MNV-1 could be grown inside cells from mice with defective immune systems. Their findings make it much easier to learn about the mouse virus and may help other researchers seeking to duplicate the accomplishment with human forms of the virus.
In a study published this week in the online journal Public Library of Science-Biology, scientists who developed the new technique report it may already have led them to a good target for vaccine development. "By looking at the mouse virus wed grown in the lab, we were able to identify a part of the capsid, the virus protein shell, that is essential to its ability to cause disease," says senior author Skip Virgin, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology and immunology and of molecular microbiology. "If this part of the capsid has an equivalent in human noroviruses, altering or disabling it may give us a way to produce forms of the viruses that are weak enough to serve as vaccines."
Michael C. Purdy | EurekAlert!
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