Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Rabies in Brain Imaging
We spent a bit of time talking about rabies in Humans and Viruses. A scary zoonotic infection that kills if untreated, rabies has been a scourge of humanity since ancient times. Over the past few years however, Ed Callaway of the Salk institute has been working with a deletion mutant strain of rabies with a GFP gene added. Rabies infects neurons through axon terminals and spreads backward (i.e. in a retrograde direction). This mutant strain replicates within host cells, but cannot spread beyond the first neuron they infect. Thus, the vector is not only safe, but it also doesn’t lead to any background fluorescence other than that which comes from the cells it infects.