Chinese researchers have detected increased genetic diversity in Ebola virus collected in Sierra Leone, providing an insight into how the virus has evolved, media reported on Thursday.


Wu-Chun Cao and colleagues from the State Key Laboratory of Pathogen and Biosecurity, Beijing, China, carried out a large-scale genetic study on the Ebola virus, Xinhua news agency reported.

They analyzed 175 Ebola virus genome sequences collected from five districts in Sierra Leone during September to November 2014, following a rapid growth of the outbreak, according to the research paper.

They found that the genetic diversity of the virus has increased substantially, with the emergence of several novel lineages, and the rate of virus evolution seems to be similar to that observed during previous Ebola virus outbreaks.

A large-scale Ebola viral disease outbreak has been ongoing in Western Africa for nearly a year, with more than 23,000 reported cases. Previous findings have shown that the causative agent is a novel Ebola virus.

Among the three West African countries with widespread and intense Ebola virus transmission, Sierra Leone reported the largest number of confirmed cases, approximately 58 percent of the total confirmed Ebola infection cases, according to the research paper.

The Chinese researchers said the variation in the Ebola virus genome may potentially impact the effectiveness of candidate treatments or attempts to detect the virus.

They expressed hope that the study would facilitate the prevention and control of Ebola virus in Sierra Leone and would also guide research on vaccines and therapeutic targets.

The study published in the journal Nature.