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Can Influenza Virus and Other Viruses Cause Neurodegeneration?

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  • Can Influenza Virus and Other Viruses Cause Neurodegeneration?

    About 10 years ago, neurobiologist Richard Smeyne, a neurologist at the St Judes Childrenans Research Hospital in Memphis, watched a video of a duck acting strange. The white-haired, orange-billed bird was completely isolated from its herd on a farm in Laos. She walks in circles, lifts her wings, loses her balance and falls. Then he tried to flap his wings and he was falling again. Smeyne watched the video of the duck in a seminar by David Boltz and Boltz's adviser, Robert Webster, who supervised flu research at the hospital.
    According to Boltz and Webster, the duck was infected in 2005 and 2006 with the H5N1 avian influenza virus that killed and killed thousands of birds and humans. Smeyne, who was working on the neurobiology of Parkinson's disease in the mouse, recognized the motor (movement-related) symptoms in the animal. In his opinion the animal was suffering from Parkinson's disease. Smeyne wondered about the neural mechanisms underlying the abnormal behavior of the animal.
    He wondered whether the ducks infected with H5N1 virus in the laboratory showed signs of Parkinson-like neurodegeneration (damage and death of neurons). St. In Jude's laboratory of biosafety level 3, he and his colleagues infected the ducks with the virus and blew their brains out. To kill the active virus, they held the brain in formaldehyde for three weeks.