It’s dangerous enough working with viruses like HIV or flu in the lab, but how do scientists study viral infections that kill up to 90 per cent of infected people, for which there's currently no vaccine? The answer is: very carefully. The infections in question are caused by Hendra and Nipah, known collectively as henipaviruses, and are responsible for outbreaks in Australia and Malaysia. They’re bat-borne viruses related to the viral culprits behind the less fatal but still dangerous diseases mumps and measles. For the first time, under extremely high levels of biosecurity, researchers have found that a molecule called fibrillarin (stained red in this fluorescence microscope image of Hendra-infected human cells) helps the virus (green) get into the nucleus (blue) where the DNA is stored – a vital part of the viral life cycle. This discovery points towards potential approaches for developing treatments or preventive approaches against henipaviruses.Today is World HIV Vaccine Awareness Day
Written by Kat Arney
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