Two research teams working independently have identified how the Nipah and Hendra viruses infect the human cells to cause infections.
Hendra virus belongs to the virus family of Paramyxoviridae. It is known to cause an outbreak of respiratory and neurological disease in animals and humans. Nipah virus also belongs to the same family of virus and causes diseases like encephalitis and respiratory illness, mostly in men.
Researchers have found that the virus to infect the humans uses a specific cell receptor called Ephrin-B2. The receptor is found in the nervous system and the blood vessels running to it. The receptors are important for the normal development of the nervous system and the surrounding blood vessels.
Both the teams of researchers feel that identifying the way the viruses infect the human cells is the key required to build the treatment along the lines of developing a vaccine and other treatment procedures. Also their research findings explain how the virus can cause widespread epidemic in people and a variety of animals as well.
Reference: National Institute of Health, press release, July 2005