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Business News/ Science / Health/  China scientists create mutant Ebola virus in lab which causes scabs over eyeballs
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China scientists create mutant Ebola virus in lab which causes scabs over eyeballs

Deadly Ebola has been engineered by Chinese scientists at Hebei Medical University using a glycoprotein found in the virus that wiped out a group of hamsters within three days of the lethal injection

A file photo of health workers taking blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in Kenema, Sierra Leone, in 2014Premium
A file photo of health workers taking blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in Kenema, Sierra Leone, in 2014

Deadly Ebola has been engineered by Chinese scientists at Hebei Medical University using a glycoprotein found in the virus that wiped out a group of hamsters within three days of the lethal injection.

The researchers noted that hamsters developed "severe systemic diseases similar to those observed in human Ebola patients, including multi-organ failure", according to the study published recently in Science Direct.

In the study, the researchers used a contagious disease of livestock and added a protein found in Ebola, which allows the virus to infect cells and spread throughout the human body. After the injection, some hamsters developed scabs over the surface of their eyeballs, affecting their vision. 

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"It is a sign that 3-week-old Syrian hamsters infected with the virus have the possibility of playing a role in the study of optic nerve disorders caused by EVD," Science Direct quoted researchers as saying.

Amid concerns around alleged lab leak of COVID-19 that caused the last pandemic, the Chinese researchers said that their aim was to reproduce the symptoms of Ebola in a laboratory so as to better understand the condition and prevent its spread.

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It is important to note that a deadly virus like Ebola needs extremely secure facilities of Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4). Hence, the Chinese researchers used a different virus called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), to carry Ebola glycoprotein which plays a crucial role in helping the virus enter and infect cells of its host.

The researchers said that when they harvested the organs of the dead hamsters, they noted that the deadly virus was spread throughout their body, including the heart, spleen, lung, kidney, stomach, intestines and brain tissues, with the highest levels in the liver.

Researchers further noted that the experiment provided a rapid preclinical evaluation of medical countermeasures against Ebola under BLS-2 conditions. 

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"Overall, this surrogate model represents a safe, effective, and economical tool for rapid preclinical evaluation of medical countermeasures against EBOV (Ebola virus) under BSL-2 conditions, which would accelerate technological advances and breakthroughs in confronting Ebola virus disease," Science Direct quoted the researchers as saying. 

 

 

 

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Published: 24 May 2024, 10:53 PM IST
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