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Mice In the War Against Ebola

11/10

What can mice tell us about how to curb the impact of the Ebola virus? Now, mice can tell us more than ever. Recently, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill developed a new genetic strain of mice that, when infected with Ebola, displays human-like symptoms. It is believed that the work of these scientists will significantly assist basic development of Ebola treatments and vaccines.

"For the first time, we were able to produce a novel platform for rapidly developing new mouse models that replicate human disease for this virus, as well as other important emerging human pathogens,” commented study co-author Ralph Baric, professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and UNC School of Medicine. He notes that a cure for the disease must include an animal model to accomplish much through research.

Human type responses to Ebola do not occur in typical laboratory mice. Researchers wondered if all mice are immune to Ebola or if some other factor was at play. They wondered if it was possible to "harness" mouse genetics to determine what genes make people susceptible to Ebola.

Co-author Mark Heise, professor of genetics at the UNC School of Medicine, noted "the mice were part of the Collaborative Cross initiative at UNC-Chapel Hill, which was designed to better model human genetic diversity, and it has proven to be a powerful system for studying how genetic variation affects susceptibility to a number of emerging pathogens, including Ebola virus. It has been a tremendous program with big dividends."

The team found that a combination of genes helped facilitate a range of disease symptoms. The genetic variation of the mice was directly responsible for the variety of symptoms Ebola produced. The team also isolated one gene, TEK, that is responsible for much of that variation.

Read the full article here: In the war against Ebola one important hurdle has just been cleared – by a mouse – Medical News Today