A new strain of virus has been identified by the medical school and named the “WU” virus after Washington University.
The virus, a type known as a polyomavirus, is closely related to two others, JC and BK, which attack the nervous system of HIV patients and cause kidney transplants to fail, respectively.
The virus has been reported in such geographically disparate countries as the United States, Australia, Germany and Korea, according to Gardner.
In fact, the first samples of the then-unknown WU virus came from the University of Queensland in Australia.
The samples were sent to the University because the school has ViroChip, a sophisticated pan-viral DNA microarray. This tool allows scientists to quickly screen viral samples and compare their structure to more than 22,000 known viruses. It was instrumental in distinguishing SARS from known viruses during the 2003 outbreak
David Wang, a University professor who leads the research team, states that the WU virus has unique properties unlike either of the others and he questions if it even is a human pathogen.
The scientific article is published at PLOS Identification of a Novel Polyomavirus from Patients with Acute Respiratory Tract Infections