Safe Strain Will Spur Ebola Work

Scientist develops less dangerous virus for research
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2008 10:21 AM CST
A surveillance team from the Congolese Ministry of Health compile data collected from remote communities along the River Lulua, Congo, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007. (AP Photo/WHO, Christopher Black, HO)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – One of the world's deadliest viruses has been made safe for researchers, speeding up the process of finding drugs and a vaccine, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. University of Wisconsin scientists developed a safe strain of the Ebola virus by removing one of its eight genes. "Now we have a better system to combat this disease," said the lead researcher.

Without the gene, the virus can't make a protein that lets it replicate in host cells. Work on Ebola is limited to a few labs because of the severe restrictions on working with the virus and the extraordinary dangers involved. The leader of the team that developed the safe strain had earlier been ordered to stop Ebola work because his lab wasn't considered safe enough.