Researchers Clone Human Disease Virus

CARDIFF, Wales, Sept. 13 (UPI) — Scientists in Wales say their successful cloning of a human virus could lead to new treatments for life-threatening diseases.

Cardiff University researchers say human cytomegalovirus, or HCMV, is a major infectious cause of congenital malformations worldwide and is also known to cause life-threatening disease in transplant patients and people with HIV/AIDS.

The development of new treatments has been difficult as scientists have been unable to stably replicate HCMV outside the human body, a university release said.

Successfully cloning HCMV will help researchers develop antivirals and vaccines against the disease-causing virus, scientists say.

“HCMV has by far the largest genome of all viruses affecting humans — consequently it was technically difficult to clone in an intact form in the laboratory,” Dr. Richard Stanton from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine said.

“For the first time our work has enabled us to create an exact copy of the virus outside of the body offering a vital step forward in the development of new treatments.”

The clone has been distributed to research laboratories worldwide, and is being tested by the World Health Organization as part of a study to develop an international diagnostic standard, the university said.

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