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Frozen Assets: Decades-old Frozen Infant Stool Samples Provide Clues To Norovirus Evolution

A search through decades-old frozen infant stool samples has yielded rich dividends for scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The team customized a laboratory technique to screen thousands of samples for norovirus, a major cause of acute gastroenteritis outbreaks in people of all ages. What they discovered about the rate of evolution of a specific group of noroviruses could help researchers develop specific antiviral drugs and, potentially, a vaccine against a disease that is very unpleasant and sometimes deadly.

The research, led by Kim Y. Green, Ph.D., and Karin Bok, Ph.D., of NIAID's Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, will appear in a future issue of the Journal of Virology, and is now available online. NIAID scientist Albert Z. Kapikian, M.D., is a co-author on the paper. In 1972, Dr. Kapikian and colleagues identified and characterized the virus, now known as norovirus, responsible for an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1968.
 
 

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