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Jun 15

Ugg leather

Through the summer, Sabeti and her group continued to read the Ebola genomes. They published them in real time, on the Web site of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, so that scientists anywhere could see the results immediately. Then, in late August, they published a paper in Science detailing their results. They had sequenced the RNA code of the Ebolas that lived in the blood of seventy-eight people in and around Kenema during three weeks in May and June, just as the virus was first starting chains of infection in Sierra Leone. The team had run vast amounts of code through the sequencers, and had come up with around two hundred thousand individual snapshots of the virus, in the blood of the seventy-eight people, and had watched it mutate over time.

They could see who had given the virus to whom. They could see exactly how it had mutated each time it grew in one person and jumped to the next. The snapshots, taken together, amounted to a short video of Ebola. You could imagine the virus as a school of fish, with each particle of Ebola a fish. The fish were swimming, and as they swam and multiplied they changed, until the school had many kinds of fish in it and was growing exponentially in size, with some kinds of fish better at swimming than others.Gire and Sabeti’s group also found that the virus had started in one person. It could have been the little boy in Meliandou, but there is no way to tell for sure right now.

In those samples, Ebola particles were growing to a concentration much greater than had been seen in samples of human blood from previous outbreaks. Some blood samples seemed to be supercharged with Ebola. This, too, would benefit the virus, by enhancing its odds of reaching the next victim.

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