Srinagar: Researchers at Washington University in the United States have discovered how the deadly Rift Valley fever virus infects human cells, which is a significant scientific breakthrough.
Dr Safder Ganaie, a virologist from Zaloora, Sopore in north Kashmir Baramulla, was one of the leading scientists involved in the discovery.
The discovery is expected to lead to therapies that prevent or lessen the severity of Rift Valley fever. The World Health Organization has identified Rift Valley fever as a priority disease with the potential to cause epidemics in the near future.
According to Dr. Ganaie, mosquitoes spread the virus among domesticated animals, who then pass it on to humans. He was the lead author of the study, which was conducted in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, University of Toronto, Harvard University, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Dr. Ganaie and his colleagues used CRISPR technology to disrupt 20,000 normal genes in order to figure out how the virus infects cells. They discovered that the virus failed to infect cells that lacked the gene for LDL receptor-related protein 1, or LRP1. Further research revealed that the virus requires LRP1 to infect hamster, bovine, monkey, and human cells, indicating that it uses the same protein in distantly related species.
“This discovery will help us understand how the Rift Valley fever virus spreads not only throughout the human body, but also how it infects mosquitos and various species of mammals,” he said.
He stated that we had been working on the discovery for three years. When asked if there is any chance of the virus spreading quickly around the world, he stated that the WHO and the US NIH have classified these viruses as category A pathogens with the potential to cause a pandemic in the future. When a virus acquires certain mutations, it becomes highly infectious. But we don’t know when it will happen. As a result, studying these viruses and how they infect cells will aid in the development of treatments in the future.
Only highly equipped bio-containment laboratories with biosafety levels -3 and -4 are used to study these viruses. Dr. Ganaie has made several discoveries in the last decade about how these viruses infect humans and animals. The majority of these viruses do not have a virus-specific treatment.
His research has been published in prestigious international virology journals such as Cell, PLoS Pathogens, Journal of Virology, and mBio.
He received his primary education in his hometown and his Bachelor of Science degree from Degree College Sopore. Dr. Ganaie enrolled at Kashmir University to pursue a Master’s degree in Biotechnology. After finishing his master’s degree, he qualified for fellowship exams such as CSIR, UGC, ICMR-Junior Research Fellowship, and GATE to pursue research in the bioscience field.
He decided to pursue his PhD in the United States in 2012 and enrolled at the University of Kansas. The University of Kansas awarded him a PhD with honours. He received the University of Kansas’ 2018-Micro Remi Amelunxen Award for his outstanding research achievements. He has received awards and given presentations at various international conferences in the United States and China— (KNO)
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