FAO works with Swiss Institute to research dangerous virus
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has chosen the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics as a designated reference centre to expand its access to state-of the-art technology in combating dangerous viral infections.
The dangerous viral infection to be researched would include avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease, in farm animals and wildlife.
A statement issued by the FAO and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday said, these diseases, like avian influenza, also known as bird flu, strike animals but could also be transmitted to humans.
The SIB, the statement said, was therefore, equipped with high performance computers, software, databases and a knowledgebase used for screening and monitoring zoonotic diseases.
It said working closely with FAO, SIB experts had developed tools to improve early detection and fast alert systems to prevent and respond to trans-boundary disease emergencies in poultry or livestock.
“The new technology helps us understand biological threats in order to help countries better prevent, respond and ultimately protect the health of humans, animals and the environment,” said FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Juan Lubroth, in the statement.
It said SIB specialized in bioinformatics, a relatively new science which employed computer technology to study biological data.
Scientists use bioinformatics to gather, process and analyse information on the genomes of pathogens – the genetic material peculiar to specific micro-organisms, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause diseases in their hosts, the statement explained.
It explained that this let them compare genomes, understand protein structures, and identify how diseases work at the molecular level.
It said such information enabled scientists to develop new drugs and targeted treatments as well as improved the effectiveness of existing medicines.