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Chinese Scientists Create Mutant Ebola Virus In Lab That Causes Horrific Symptoms

The lab-synthesized virus killed hamsters, said researchers.

Scientists in China have engineered a virus using parts of the deadly Ebola to study the disease and its symptoms. A study detailing the experiment at Hebei Medical University has been published in Science Direct. Researchers noted in the study that they injected a group of hamsters with the lethal virus and they died within three days. The hamsters developed “severe systemic diseases similar to those observed in human Ebola patients, including multi-organ failure”, they further said in the study.

For the study, the team of Chinese researchers used a contagious disease of livestock and added a protein found in Ebola, which allows the virus to infect cells and spread throughout the human body.

After the injection, some hamsters developed secretions in their eyeballs, which impaired their vision and covered the surface of the eyeballs.

“It is a sign that 3-week-old Syrian hamsters infected with the virus have the possibility of playing a role in the study of optic nerve disorders caused by EVD,” researchers said.

Amid concerns around alleged lab leak of the coronavirus that caused the last pandemic, the researchers said their goal was to find the right animal models that can safely mimic Ebola symptoms in a lab setting.

A virus like Ebola needs extremely secure facilities that are Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4). Most of the labs around the world are BSL-2.

As a workaround, Chinese scientists used a different virus called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which they engineered to carry part of the Ebola virus – called glycoprotein (GP) – that plays a crucial role in helping the virus enter and infect cells of its host.

The study subjects included five female and five male hamsters.

When they harvested the organs of the dead animal, they found the virus had accumulated in the heart, liver, spleen, lung, kidney, stomach, intestines and brain tissues.

Concluding that the study was a success, researchers noted that the experiment provided a rapid preclinical evaluation of medical countermeasures against Ebola under BLS-2 conditions, concluding the study was a success.

Last time a major Ebola infection was reported in the world was from 2014 to 2016 in several West African countries, according to World health Organisation (WHO).