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Equine herpesvirus 1 causes respiratory diseases, neurological diseases, abortions and newborn foal death. EHV1 establishes a lifelong, latent infection in the infected animal and can reactivate in response to stress, causing disease and spreading to other animals.  Current vaccines do not prevent EHV1 infections; available treatments are merely supportive and do not effectively target the virus. Better treatments for EHV1 and associated diseases are needed to address outbreaks and individual infections. Researchers will study how to prevent the virus from replicating in the horse’s body and spreading infection. As a first step, the team will examine how the EHV1 takes over the host cells by harnessing the cell’s biological processes to make more virus particles. The team will then study how to target these fundamental interactions to help the host cells silence the invading virus and stop replication. If successful, findings will provide valuable information toward developing new antivirals, helping thousands of horses affected by this chronic disease each year.

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University of Saskatchewan, Canada
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Kristen Conn, PhD