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Features Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 05:30
The much higher death toll during the current Ebola outbreak, with the figure at nearly 10,500, is not because the virus has evolved to become more deadly or virulent, says a new study.The study by the University of Manchester researchers demonstrated that while a high number of genetic changes have been recorded in the virus, it has not changed at a functional level to become more or less virulent since the first outbreak 40 years ago."Using data from every outbreak since 1976, we were able to highlight what changes there had been in the RNA of the virus and then using specially developed tools predict the consequences of those changes," said professor Simon Lovell.For analysing changes in the virus, the researchers used a computational approach that PhD student Abayomi Olabode developed."What we found was that whilst Ebola is mutating, it is not evolving to the point of adapting to become more or less virulent," Lovell noted.The findings suggest that vaccines and treatments developed during this current outbreak have a very high chance of being effective against future outbreaks."It also means that methods to successfully tackle the virus should work again, so hopefully in the future an outbreak can be stopped from spreading at a much earlier stage," professor David Robertson of the study team noted.The findings were published in the journal Virology. With IANS
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