New type of vaccine-resistant polio virus

Polio virus (Credit:  Sanofi Pasteur/Flickr)
Polio viruses in black and white (Credit: Sanofi Pasteur/Flickr)

Main Point:

Scientists have found a new strain of polio virus that is thought to be responsible for the major epidemics of polio cases in the recent times. This polio virus is not affected by polio vaccines.

Published in:

PNAS

Study Further:

Polio is an acute form of viral disease that is caused by inflammation of nerve cells of the brain stem and spinal cord. Virus behind this disease is poliomyelitis. Science has successfully helped humanity in reducing the number of polio cases by about 99% in the past 3 decades with the help of vaccines.

Unfortunately, major epidemics are still occurring in the recent times such as the report of cases in Tajikistan and the Republic of the Congo in 2010 and in China in 2011. Cases of polio in 2010 in the Republic of the Congo were of serious type as they resulted in huge number of mortalities, i.e. 47% mortalities out of all cases.

Initially, researchers thought that low vaccine coverage was the cause of newly reported cases, but now they have found mutations in viruses that are making them resistant to conventional polio vaccines. These mutations result in changes in the proteins that form the “shell” of the virus making it complicated for antibodies of the body of vaccinated patient to identify the viral strain and work against them.

Research Idea:

Recently, Pakistan has also faced large number of polio cases. Scientists can check these cases for new polio viruses.

Reference:

Drexler, J., Grard, G., Lukashev, A., Kozlovskaya, L., Bottcher, S., Uslu, G., Reimerink, J., Gmyl, A., Taty-Taty, R., Lekana-Douki, S., Nkoghe, D., Eis-Hubinger, A., Diedrich, S., Koopmans, M., Leroy, E., & Drosten, C. (2014). Robustness against serum neutralization of a poliovirus type 1 from a lethal epidemic of poliomyelitis in the Republic of Congo in 2010 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (35), 12889-12894 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1323502111

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