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 we'd 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."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noroviruses are involved in about half of all food poisoning cases and annually cause about 23 million cases of acute gastroenteritis in the United States.
Norovirus disease is characterized by frequent vomiting and diarrhea over the course of one to two days. The most infamous norovirus, the Norwalk virus, was first identified after a 1968 outbreak at a school in Norwalk, Ohio. The Norwalk virus also caused a series of repeated outbreaks on cruise ships in 2002 and in military personnel in Afghanista
Contact: Michael C. Purdy
Washington University School of Medicine