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Friday, September 29, 2023

UF researchers develop new treatment for intestinal virus

UF researchers have found a way to begin the process of treatment for an intestinal virus most commonly found on cruise ships.

By growing the live norovirus in a culture dish at UF, medical professionals may be able to create new medications and treatment for the virus.

The virus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, can be contagious for three days after symptoms fade.

There is no medication available for the virus, but by growing the live virus, researchers can now test new treatments that could soon be available to the public.  

Stephanie Karst, an  associate professor in the department of molecular genetics and microbiology in the UF College of Medicine, said testing on mice led to critical clues in developing the human norovirus cell culture system.

“The only source of human norovirus is stool from an infected individual,” Karst wrote in an email. “We applied a virus-positive stool sample onto human B cells and then analyzed for viral replication over a 5 day period.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus alone has been responsible for 19 to 21 million cases a year and even caused 570 to 800 deaths. With this new information, the numbers could decrease.

“For the first time, we can screen antiviral compounds for activity against noroviruses in a relevant cell culture system,” Karst wrote. 

Jordan Steckler, a UF linguistics junior, said she has heard of the virus and is glad to hear the correct steps are being taken to get it under control.

“I remember hearing about an outbreak of this virus on a cruise ship, and they had to send the ship back because it was spreading so fast,” the 21-year-old said. “I’m glad the research is being done in order to keep this under control and prevent others from getting sick.”

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 11/17/2014]

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