Respiratory problems caused by infection of the lower respiratory tract are a leading cause of hospitalisation of children. In about 20 per cent of cases, it is currently impossible to determine the causative agent. The Swedish team detected the bocavirus in 3 percent of cases of serious lower respiratory tract infection.

“Viral infections are one of the world’s most serious health problems,” says virus researcher Tobias Allander. “They can cause everything from AIDS to the common cold, and they kill thousands of people a day. Despite this, we do not have a full picture of all the viruses that infect humans.”

Dr. Allander and colleague Björn Andersson have now developed a method that makes it possible to systematically scan samples for unknown viruses.

“We believe that the most important aspect of our discovery is that it will enable the discovery of many more viruses, and this may help us solve important medical questions,” says Dr. Allander. “Identifying unknown viruses will probably help in developing diagnostics and treatment for diseases that are currently of unknown origin.” Many scientists believe that as yet unknown viruses can be involved in the development of for example childhood diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Dr. Allander is a scientist at KI’s Centre for Molecular Medicine and Department of Clinical Microbiology at Karolinska University Hospital. Dr. Andersson is an associate professor at KI’s Centre for Genomics and Bioinformatics.

For more information, contact:
Tobias Allander on 08-517 735 80 / 070-341 19 32 or at tobias.allander@karolinska.se
Björn Andersson on 08-524 839 87 / 070-355 39 87 or at Bjorn.Andersson@cgb.ki.se

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