Researchers create first chikungunya animal model

February 20th, 2008 - 3:51 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 20 (Xinhua) Researchers have developed the first animal model of the infection caused by the chikungunya virus (CHIKV), according to a report. The virus is associated with large-scale epidemics that hit the Indian Ocean, affecting the French island of Reunion in 2005, before spreading to India and Italy in 2007.

Using a mouse model, the scientists of the Pasteur Institute and INSERM in France determined which tissues and cells are infected by the virus, in both mild and severe forms of the disease.

They reported their findings in an article published in the latest issue of the US online journal PLoS Pathogens.

The main symptoms of CHIKV include fever, joint pains, muscle pains and skin rash.

However, the physiological processes related to this infection remain poorly understood, mainly the factors responsible for severe illness with neurological manifestations among newborns and the elderly.

Through this model the researchers show how after an initial phase of viral replication in the liver, the infection extends to the joints, muscles and skin in humans.

In most severe cases, the infection spreads to the central nervous system. The model also allowed the investigators to study the mother-to-child transmission of the virus, a complication that was recorded for the first time during the Reunion outbreak.

The development of the mouse model provides chikungunya researchers with an experimental tool that sheds light on the physiological processes of the infection, paving the way for future treatments and vaccine, the report said.

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