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Study reveals how morbillivirus can adapt to infect humans
Scientists used ground-breaking techniques to reveal that small ruminant morbillivirus can adapt to infect human cells.

Researchers use novel techniques to identify changes

Researchers at The Pirbright Institute have used ground-breaking techniques to reveal that the small ruminant morbillivirus can adapt to infect human cells.

The study, published in the Journal of Virology, found that small ruminant morbillivirus (also known as Peste des petits ruminants (PPR)) could, through minor changes in a particular protein, overcome barriers that prevent it from entering human cells.

Researchers say the findings have important implications for monitoring virus evolution in the field, particularly during eradication campaigns.
Equally important, however, were the techniques used to identify the changes. Scientists say the method eliminated the need for live infectious virus and high containment laboratories, and meant modified live virus with potential zoonotic capability were not generated.

Dr Dalan Bailey who led the research explains: “By examining the zoonotic potential of non-human morbilliviruses we identified that PPRV cannot enter human cells because it does not have the correct attachment protein configuration to bind to the human SLAMF1 immune cell receptor. 

“However, using our existing understanding of how these proteins interact, and previous sequencing and structural studies, we were able to identify and confirm that a single amino acid in the PPRV Haemagglutinin can overcome this barrier to entry.”

He added: “It is important to note that this does not mean the virus would have the potential to cause disease in humans as there are many other factors required for the virus to successfully replicate and cause clinical symptoms, but it does indicate that these viruses have zoonotic potential given the right mutations and conditions.

“In the light of these findings we believe it is important that a sequence surveillance programme, similar to that undertaken for influenza, is introduced to monitor mutations in this region.”

The study was carried out in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, the University of Cambridge and other institutions.

 

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”