Dr. Christopher Basler, a professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, director of the university’s Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Microbial Pathogenesis, has received a two-year, $419,100 federal grant to study a virus similar to Ebola, according to Life Sciences.
Basler and his co-investigator Dr. Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston will use the grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health to study Reston ebolavirus.
“This is a virus that resembles Ebola virus, but what makes Reston virus interesting and unique is that whereas Ebola virus, formally Zaire Ebola virus, is typically very deadly in people, Reston virus does not make people sick, but it can still be deadly in some monkeys,” Basler said. “Reston is a virus for which there have been a number of documented human exposures, but people have never gotten sick. The virus is of interest in that respect.”
There are actually five different species of the Ebola virus, and they have similar genomic structures. That said, they are clearly distinct from each other. Ebola and Reston belong to the five species.
Reston seems to come from a different geographic location than other similar viruses. It appears to originate from the Philippines and China, Ebola originated in Africa. Presumably, Ebola and Reston evolved from a common ancestor, but for some reason, Reston has existed in a different place and seems to be less effective at infecting humans.