Following the piling deaths recorded from Ebola virus in parts of West Africa, lab scientists from the Harvard University have harvested strains of the deadly virus and begun series of tests to determine its genetic fingerprints and see how it can be overcome. But then they came up with another discovery – the ability of the Ebola virus to mutate is alarming and confounding.

Lab scientists from Harvard University lab had traveled to Africa to bring back strains of the Ebola virus in vials that were packed in dry ice. They had harvested the samples from 78 Sierra Leone patients for further study, but they surprisingly discover that the pathogen has undergone about 341 mutations in ways that were different from past epidemics. But then, the researchers have taken to studying the abilities of this disease strain to mutate and the frequency and process at which it achieves this. And according to Dr. Daniel Bausch, an associate professor of tropical medicine from the Tulane School of Public Health, “a small degree of variation can have a significant public health impact, depending on where it is and what it causes in the virus.”

The scientists are making their findings public in real time to allow other labs anywhere track the progress made and take up further research to get to the root of this Ebola virus: its genome, genetic fingerprints, and mutations abilities and processes. The researchers from the University of Harvard are using sophisticated equipment from the Broad Institute to get their jobs done, and they are posting their discoveries online in real time for other scientists to work with. And according a director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “now, in real time, as the epidemic is going on, we’re able to do that pinpointing in the most elegant, specific, and sensitive manner.”

And Pardis Sabeti, a computational biologist from Harvard who actually supervises the research work states that “there are two sides of it. My lab has never been this sad, and never been this motivated since I started it.” Because the researchers are not resting at the lab, and they are working shifts round the clock to get more from the Ebola virus strains.

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