Linked Lab helps understand Ebola

Researchers in our Linked Laboratory at CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) have been helping to investigate the current Ebola outbreak by examining the highly pathogenic Ebola virus. Working in the PC4 high-containment facility, they use transmission electron microscopy and cryo-electron tomography to determine virus ultrastructure, morphogenesis and host cell interactions.

Zaire ebolavirus is responsible for the current outbreak in West Africa ravaging communities across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. To date reports from the Center for Disease Control document 964 cases with 603 deaths. It has proven impossible to predict the pattern of spread, and with no vaccines available, the virus has a case fatality rate of up to 90%.

Researcher Ms Sandra Crameri first imaged Ebola Reston using transmission electron microscopy in 2009, producing essential reference images previously unobtainable in Australia. As the global Ebola crisis deepens, AAHL has commenced work on further species in the Filoviridae family and the team are working to determine why these viruses grow as filaments that sometimes branch or form closed loops. The team is also investigating differences in demarcation criteria between species to enhance Australia’s diagnostic capability should an outbreak ever occur in Australia.

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