This is how norovirus invades the body | Science News

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This is how norovirus invades the body

The pathogen targets a rare type of gut cell, a study in mice finds

By
10:23am, April 13, 2018
norovirus in mouse tissue

THE WINNER IS…  In mice, norovirus invades tuft cells (the two bright green spots) in the lining of the small intestine (left) and the colon (right). Other cells in the intestines that weren’t infected (blue) are also shown.

How a nasty, contagious stomach virus lays claim to the digestive system just got a little less mysterious.  

In mice, norovirus infects rare cells in the lining of the gut called tuft cells. Like beacons in a dark sea, these cells glowed with evidence of a norovirus infection in fluorescent microscopy images, researchers report in the April 13 Science.

If norovirus also targets tuft cells in humans, “maybe that’s the cell type we need to be treating,” says study coauthor Craig Wilen, a physician scientist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Worldwide, norovirus causes about 1 in 5 cases of acute gastroenteritis, an illness of vomiting and diarrhea accompanied by rapid dehydration. More than 200,000 people die annually from the virus, nearly all in developing countries. Norovirus even popped up at the 2018 Winter Olympics in

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