Researchers have shed light on how a highly infectious virus, that has recently transferred from animals to people, is able to enter human cells.

The University of Queensland’s Dr Ariel Isaacs and Dr Yu Shang Low have uncovered the structure of the fusion protein of Langya virus, which was discovered in people in eastern China in August 2022.

Dr Isaacs said the virus caused fever and severe respiratory symptoms and was from the same class of viruses as the deadly Nipah and Hendra viruses.

“We’re at an important juncture with viruses from the Henipavirus genus, as we can expect more spill over events from animals to people,” Dr Isaacs said.

“It’s important we understand the inner workings of these emerging viruses, which is where our work comes in.”

The team used UQ’s molecular clamp technology to hold the fusion protein of the Langya virus in place to uncover the atomic structure using cryogenic electron microscopy at UQ’s Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis.

“Understanding the structure and how it enters cells is a critical step towards developing vaccines and treatments to combat Henipavirus infections,” Dr Isaacs said.

Read more at University of Queensland

Langya henipavirus identified in China: A NEJM correspondence