The first close relative to Ebola with the possibility of a pandemic has been established

The first close relative to Ebola with the possibility of a pandemic has been established ...

For the first time, researchers from the Medway School of Pharmacy (a partnership between the Universities of Kent and Greenwich) have helped isolate the Lloviu virus (LLOV), a close relative of the Ebola virus, highlighting the need for future research to ensure pandemic readiness.

LLOV belongs to the Ebola virus, which includes Ebola (and other filoviruses), but LLOV has been discovered in Europe. In 2002, the filovirus LLOV was identified via its genetic material (RNA) in Schreibers bats in Spain and was then detected in bats in Hungary.

Due to our close relationship with animals in agriculture, as companions and in the natural environment, LLOV is of interest to public health around the world. This is especially the case in recent years as many wild animals become dismantled and encroachments. The World Health Organization notes that zoonotic diseases constitute a large percentage of all new infectious diseases as well as many existing ones.

Dr Simon Scott and Dr Nigel Temperton of the Viral Pseudotye Unit (VPU) at Medway School of Pharmacy were part of a group led by Dr Gabor Kemenesi from Pecs University/National Laboratory of Virology in Hungary. During the experiment, the VPU, including former PhD student Dr Martin Mayora-Neto, were involved in all antibody detection experiments using bat sera as part of the study, even before the virus itself was isolated. This isolation occurred in

Significantly, the team have discovered that Lloviu has the potential to infect human cells and to replicate. This raises fears about possible widespread transmission in Europe and calls for immediate pathogenicity and antiviral treatment. The VPU study also found that existing Ebola vaccinations may not protect against Lloviu if it is transmitted to one another.

Dr Scott said: Our research is a smoking gun. It is vital that we know more about the distribution of this virus, as well as that research is underway in this area to identify the risks, and to ensure we are well-prepared for potential epidemics and pandemics.

It''s clear that there is a substantial knowledge gap between pathogenicity, animal hosts, and transmission of these newly discovered viruses. Dr Scott has been able to form a consortium of European bat virologists, harnessing expertise in the field, from ecology to virology. The group is aiming to undertake further research across Europe on the dangers of the Lloviu virus to humans, along with other types of viruses, such as the coronavirus and the Lyssavirus (rabies).

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