Quirks & Quarks

Genome of a Killer

Scientists hope decoding the genome of the Ebola virus will help fight the disease....

Scientists hope decoding the genome of the Ebola virus will help fight the disease.

The Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa earlier this year has proved a fearsome killer, and public health authorities fear it will get worse before it gets better.  Science has been able to do little to cure or treat Ebola, but new work by a team led by Dr. Pardis Sabeti may help to change that.  Dr. Sabeti is a computational geneticist in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Early in the outbreak, she and her colleagues, including five in Sierra Leone who have since died, began a crash effort to decode the genetic sequence of the virus involved in the current outbreak.  This sequence will help with diagnostic tests and the development of treatments and vaccines, as well as perhaps providing clues as to the origins of the current epidemic, and why it's so virulent and lethal.

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