of Article: http://www.sciencecentric.com/news/article.php?q=09040161-new-study-investigate-growth-noroviruses
Centric | 1 April 2009 14:18 GMT
A new study from the University of Southampton
is examining why norovirus gastroenteritis - popularly referred to as
'gastric flu' - is confined to specific parts of the small intestine.
Noroviruses are recognised world-wide as the
most important cause of epidemic nonbacterial gastroenteritis (stomach
bugs) and pose a significant public health burden with an estimated 1
million cases per year in the UK. In the past, noroviruses have also been
called 'winter vomiting viruses.'
Professor Ian Clarke and Dr Paul Lambden, from
the University's School of Medicine, have been awarded a grant for
GBP473,000 from the Wellcome Trust to investigate the molecular determinants
that confine the growth of these viruses to specific cells of the small
They will also study the murine norovirus
(MNV), which is closely related to human noroviruses, using their 'reverse
genetics' system to help understand the replication and molecular biology
of this and human noroviruses and, it is hoped, lead to ways of controlling
Professor Ian Clarke says: 'The 'reverse
genetics' system is a critical new tool which allows the systematic
manipulation of virus genes to determine their function.
'Despite their widespread prevalence, and their
identification 30 years ago, no human noroviruses have as yet been adapted
to grow in the laboratory, thereby restricting knowledge of the
transmission and immunobiology of this distinct and highly infectious group
Characteristically, noroviruses cause acute
diarrhoea and vomiting with rapid secondary spread arising from
person-to-person transmission. The disease is highly contagious and
outbreaks involving large numbers of people occur regularly in settings
such as cruise ships, hospitals, schools, hotels and nursing homes. It can
be transmitted by contact; by consuming contaminated food or water; or by
contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.
In recognition of their promising results,
Professor Clarke and Dr Lambden have also been awarded a prestigious Food
Standards Agency postgraduate scholarship to develop rapid and simple
detection protocols that could be easily used by the food and water industries.
Source: University of Southampton
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