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Hamilton’s RML Makes Major Advance in Study of Hantavirus

A Sin Nombre virus particle emerges from a cell. (RML/NIAID Image)

Since 1993, scientists have been attempting to mimic the Hantavirus disease in a large animal. Researchers at Hamilton’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories have done it.

Using rhesus macaque primates, the National Institutes of Health researchers developed an animal model of human hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).

A news release described how they accomplished the study. The NIAID scientists first infected healthy deer mice with Sin Nombre virus from descendants of wild deer mice. From those newly infected mice, the 10 macaques were exposed. Nine monkeys became infected and seven developed severe disease, in much the same way humans respond.

The virus “triggered a life-threatening immune response nearly two weeks after infection,” according to the report.

Now, the researchers hope to identify markers during that two week period that would help in diagnosis.

The goal, of course, would be treatments and vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 200 deaths from hantavirus since 1993.

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