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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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ZSL London Zoo shares animal X-rays

News Story 1
 A selection of X-ray images showing the inner workings of frogs, turtles, snakes and geckos have been shared by veterinary surgeons at ZSL London Zoo.

Taken as part of a routine health check, the images have been shared as part of ‘Vets in Action’ week - a hand’s on role-playing experience for children that explores the life of a zoo vet.

ZSL London Zoo veterinary nurse Heather Mackintosh said: “It’s great to be able to share the work that goes on behind the scenes at the Zoo to keep our residents in tip-top condition – and our visitors are always amazed to find out more about their favourite animals.” 

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Vets in developing nations given free access to BSAVA’s online library

BSAVA has teamed up with the WSAVA, the WSAVA Foundation and FECAVA to offer vets in developing nations free access to its online library.

The Association’s ‘Foundation Collection’ is comprised of more than 70 hours of articles, lectures and book chapters covering topics such as basic handling skills, working on a budget and emergency triage. Some of the countries set to benefit include Albania, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.

Nicolette Hayward, of BSAVA International Affairs Committee said: “Our mission is to promote excellence in small animal practice through education and science, so we are delighted to work with WSAVA, the WSAVA Foundation and FECAVA to share these high-quality resources to the veterinary profession in low and middle-income countries.”