Research team from the University of Glasgow develops methods to synthesise and change the SBV genome in a bid to better understand how it causes disease in livestock.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have made an important breakthrough in the battle against Schmallenberg virus (SBV).

Professor Massimo PalmariniA team led by Massimo Palmarini and Alain Kohl has developed methods to synthesise and change the genome of the virus in a bid to better understand how it causes disease in livestock.

The work is being carried out at the MRC Centre for Virus Research at the university and hopes are high it could pave the way for the future development of vaccines.

Prof Palmarini, director of the MRC Centre for Virus Research, said: “Insect-borne viruses, known as arboviruses, are increasingly becoming a problem throughout the world, whereas years ago they were limited mainly to tropical areas of the globe.

“The spread of arboviruses is probably the result of several factors, including increase in travelling and commercial exchanges, climate and ecological changes and increased livestock production.

“This study will help us to understand how SBV works. But it can also serve as an example for other related viruses that may emerge in the future.”

Scientists used reverse genetics to identify the gene – called NSs – involved in protecting the virus against the immune response of infected animals. They then made viruses missing this gene and discovered that without it the virus affected mice in the laboratory less than the virus containing the protective gene.

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