New Important Discoveries About Foot-And-Mouth Disease

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Foot-and-mouth disease, also known as hoof-and-mouth disease, is an infectious viral disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals like cow, deer, cattle and sheep. This presents a serious problem not only because it devastates animal farming, but it can also be acquired by humans from infected animals. Studies have been initiated to give light to more mysteries underlying this disease process.

In relation with this, the research team at the University of Leeds has examined the 3D enzyme that has an essential role in the viral replication in this disease.  They found out that fibrous structures or fibrils can be formed by this particular enzyme.  Importantly, it was revealed that a molecule that can halt the formation of these fibrils has been discovered.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) had funded this breakthrough research; moreover, the results of the study can be found in the Journal of Virology. Furthermore, Dr. Nicola Stonehouse (from the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences) stated that it is still early to conclude that they have already discovered a probable medication directed towards treating this viral disease because there are more information that need to be known. Nonetheless, she admitted that the findings are very important in providing a clear path for investigation.

Foot-and-mouth disease is deemed as one of the most easily transmissible diseases to humans; however, the processes of how animals are infected by it are not yet given much light. This virus involved in this disease can reproduce in a fast pace, which can lead to an extensive damage in just a short span of time. This can be proven by the 2001 outbreak in the United Kingdom, where about seven million sheep and cattle died. It had a disturbing impact to the agricultural sector of Britain. In 2007, another isolated outbreak happened.

The researchers observed that the fibril formation by the 3D enzyme occurs when it copies the genetic information required in replication. Though the significance of these fibrils are not yet entirely clear, it is still considered that these may have a vital role in the reproduction process. Importantly, utmost significance is seen in detecting the molecule that can stop the fibril formation.

Furthermore, PhD student Kris Holmes, one of the researchers, elaborated that studying the fibrils further, examining their structure and purpose will be the next phase of their investigation. Moreover, only one laboratory in the UK- Institute for Animal Health (Pirbright, Surrey) has been given the license to include studying the actual virus because this pathogen is considered highly dangerous. In this particular research, a harmless, simple viral model was utilized by the Leeds team.





  1. Very odd and misleading use of the photograph here. FMD is not a zoonotic disease and should not be confused with “hand, foot and mouth disease”. There were no confirmed cases of human FMD in the UK’s devastating outbreak in 2001.

  2. Precisely which disease is this referring to? I suggest the research group do a bit of homework before they start their project. I, for one, would not believe a word they publish from now on. I have rarely seen such misleading information provided with apparent authority

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