Breakthrough could lead to norovirus vaccine

Scientists from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom have been successful at the crystallization of a norovirus that  may be able to aid in the development of a treatment that inhibits the norovirus from spreading.

Worldwide, noroviruses cause a large number of epidemic nonbacterial gastroenteritis cases, which post a significant health burden, reports. In the United Kingdom alone, there are an estimated one million cases a year.

The research team was able to crystallize the key protease enzyme, which allowed them to design an inhibitor that interacts with the enzyme and stops it from working, limiting the spread of infection. The virus is known as the Southampton norovirus because it was first discovered in an outbreak that came from a Southampton family.

"Noroviruses place a huge burden on the NHS," Ian Clark, a virologist at the University of Southampton, said, according to "This is an important step forward in the rational design of new drugs to treat norovirus infections. Now we know the drug works in the test tube, the next step is to see whether we can modify and deliver it to the site where the virus grows."

The end goal of the research team is to translate their findings in the laboratory into an antiviral treatment for norovirus infection.