A breakthrough has been made in understanding the structure of the virus that causes feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), researchers at Academia Sinica and National Taiwan University (NTU) said on Thursday.
FIP, a coronavirus that causes fever, lack of appetite and severe inflammation in cats, is usually fatal. There is no known cure or effective treatment for the disease.
Danny Hsu (徐尚德) and Chang Hui-wen (張惠雯) shared the results of their research, which was published on Jan. 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
They created the first detailed model of the spiked protein molecules on the surface of the FIP virus, Hsu and Chang said.
As the proteins help the virus infect cells, this discovery can help researchers to work out how the disease develops in cats, hopefully leading to a vaccine, Hsu said.
Hsu, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Biological Chemistry at Academia Sinica, and Chang, an assistant professor at NTU’s Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, said that their research method had other potential applications.
Cryogenic electron microscopy, which involves freezing a specimen so it retains its structure when analyzed under an electron miscroscope, could be used to analyze other viruses, including the novel coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China, that has affected people, they said.
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