New research shows how the interaction between Atlantic salmon and the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus leads to the development and spreading of the influenza-like disease ISA in fish. The new findings, which were described in an April 10, 2013 press release, may be of relevance to research on influenza generally. ISA was detected for the first time in Norway in 1984 and still poses a serious threat to the fish farming industry. ISA is the only disease of farmed Atlantic salmon that is listed by the World Organization for Animal Health. The disease usually breaks out in one cage and gradually spreads over a period of weeks and months to neighbouring cages. The disease cannot be treated and an outbreak of ISA can therefore result in large losses. In her doctoral thesis, Maria Aamelfot elucidates some phases of the disease development. She has studied what types of cells are receptive to the virus and what cells actually become infected by the virus. Her findings describe the ability of the virus to infect or damage certain cells, tissues, or organs. Aamelfot’s research on this interaction between salmon and the ISA virus provides us with new knowledge about how the disease ISA develops and represents an important contribution towards possible disease prevention. Aamelfot has developed a method of detecting which cells and organs the virus can attach itself to and use as a port of entry for infecting the organism. If a virus is to be able to infect a cell, the cell must have the virus’s specific receptor (adhesion structure) on its surface. Different viruses use their own specific receptors and the virus adheres to these, just like a key fits in a lock.
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