Friday, March 11, 2011

Mutant Gene Link to West Nile Virus in Horses

The same mutated gene that makes humans more susceptible to the potentially fatal West Nile virus is also responsible for the virus affecting horses, according to scientists at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

A naturally occurring mutation of the OAS1 gene has now been confirmed as increasing the vulnerability of horses to the West Nile virus, thanks to a study led by Professor David Adelson (University of Adelaide) and conducted by PhD student Jonathan Rios (Texas A&M University).
The results of the study were published last month in the online peer-reviewed science journal PLoS ONE.
As a virus, WNV is 'promiscuous.' The above insight leads us a bit closer to finding not only what makes someone susceptible to infection, but possible genetic mechanisms of resistance (e.g. we could test horses to make sure that they don't have a mutated gene).
-Catalina Angel
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