If you have ever played the card game Killer Bunnies and your Bunnies in the Bunny circle have died because of the Level 11 Weapon of Ebola Virus you want to read this.
Research community is making strides to understand whether the virus is adapting to its host or changing as it spreads through the different populations as more countries get in its warp, in West Africa.
5 of the 50 co-authors on this Science article were infected with the deadly Zaire Ebola Virus (EBOV) themselves. Nothing short of a thriller, the events trace back to the funeral of a healer which kick-started the spread of Ebola in the region. Also reviewed here is a paper from 2008 in which the authors have pointed the VP35 protein, which during their experiments was identified as a critical component of this hemorrhagic fever.
Ebola’s genomic sequence:
- Linear, single-stranded genome
- Inverse-complementary 3′ and 5′ termini
- ~19 kb (19 thousand nucleotides long compared to 3 billion human genome)
- Seven genes (compared to ~20k in humans)
The current outbreak is due to the EBOV virus, one of the five Ebola virus known to infect humans. Research groups are trying to identify whether the genetic sequence of this virus is changing fast enough in regions that are key for the accuracy of the PCR based diagnostic tests.
This EBOV virus in the 2014 epidemic has been reported to be 97% similar to the virus that first emerged in 1976. Articles across the web estimate that EBOV is set to evolve at about 7×10-4 substitutions per site per year suggesting that the current strain of EBOV would have accumulated many substitutions over the 40 year time period since 1976.
Josh Herr of Michigan State University and Daniel Park of Broad Institute aim to maintain an analysis wiki for solving the underlying genomic riddle, by studying the different strains of the virus and are encouraging contributors (ebola-crowdsource).
Dr. Lipkin professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University discusses a pertinent question of whether ‘Ebola can travel to the United States’ . He explains in a matter-of-fact way that although there is a possibility of the virus traveling to US like anywhere else, there’s also a high likelihood of it being monitored and isolated by health authorities at the earliest possible.
Lets get to a round of that card game now, shall we.