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Smooth sailing: 'cruise ship virus' tackled by UH, Baylor College of Medicine

You're on vacation, having fun sailing the seven seas, when your stomach starts rolling worse than the waves. Before you know it, nausea and vomiting have replaced shuffle board and sun-bathing.

Unfortunately, it's a scenario that's becoming increasingly common on cruise ships. So common, in fact, that the National Institutes of Health's Western Regional Center of Excellence (RCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases awarded a two-year $280,000 grant to a pair of University of Houston professors who are studying what has commonly been dubbed the "Cruise Ship Virus."

This RCE is part of a national network of 10 other centers that support research focused on countering threats from bioterror agents and emerging infectious diseases. Each is comprised of a consortium of universities and complementary research institutions serving a specific geographical region. UH and the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) are part of region VI, encompassing institutions in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The centers, located throughout the United States, are building and maintaining a strong scientific infrastructure to support multifaceted research and development activities that promote the next generation of therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics for Category A, B and C pathogens posing threats as agents of bioterrorism.

The two faculty members from UH's Cullen College of Engineering ?Paul Ruchhoeft, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Richard Willson, professor of chemical engineering ?are working with Dr. Robert L. Atmar, associate professor of medicine, molecular virology and microbiology, from the Baylor College of Medicine to combat the Norwalk virus.

This insidious, highly infectious disease is an intestinal illness that causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. The research conducted at UH and BCM may save a number of people from a vacation nightmar
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Source:University of Houston


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