Chinese Scientists Make Breakthrough in Cure for African Swine Fever

By Ryan Gandolfo, October 22, 2019

1 0

Chinese scientists recently announced that they have detailed the structure of the African swine fever (ASF) virus.

On Friday, October 18, scientists said their discovery will offer insight into how the virus attacks host cells while avoiding the infected pigs’ immune system, according to China Daily. Knowing the structure of the virus is expected to help develop an effective vaccine for ASF, which has been wiping out the country’s pig population at an alarming rate.

The research team said the ball-shaped virus contains five layers with more than 30,000 protein subunits. Wang Xiangxi, a lead scientist behind the recent discovery, noted that the virus is the largest ever discovered by Chinese scientists. Ranging from 260 to 300 nanometers in diameter, African swine fever virus is said to be 140 time larger than the Zika virus and 760 times the size of the hepatitis A virus, China Daily reported.

Explainer: Here's Why Pork is Getting Much More Expensive in China

The discovery is considered to be just an initial step in what’s expected to be a long battle against the virus, which has devastated the country’s pork supply. Researchers spent four months collecting over 100 terabytes of data using a technique called cryo-electron microscopy – a method that is said to be “helping researchers to unravel the mysteries behind a wide range of diseases” by analyzing aggregate structures at molecular resolution to determine a virus’s structure in detail, according to ThermoFisher Scientific.

Two possible vaccines for the virus were developed in May, and await approval for trials from authorities.

Since August 2018, ASF has run rampant in China, and spread to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Twenty-six countries and regions have reported outbreaks this year, including 157 ASF cases in China since the initial outbreak on August 3 of last year. Multiple Chinese cities have enacted measures in recent months to stabilize pork prices, including adding frozen pork reserves into circulation and limiting the quantity of pork that consumers can purchase.

READ MORE: China Breeds Polar Bear-Sized Pigs as Pork Prices Surge

[Cover image via Pixabay]

more news

Beijing's An Yu on Her Debut Novel 'Braised Pork' and Her Inspiration

We hear from An Yu about her fantastic novel and the inspiration behind her work.

Chef and Writer Fuchsia Dunlop, the UK Expert on Sichuan Food

Dunlop is a critically acclaimed chef and food writer who has written multiple award-winning books on Chinese cuisine.

WIN! Galician Octopus Set from The Good Food People

Good time with The Good Food People.

How to Order Takeout on China's Food Delivery App

We give you a quick guide to one of China’s ‘Big Two’ in the food delivery world.

This Bungee Jumping Swine Sums Up A Difficult Year for Pigs

Chinese netizens are up in arms after a video of a bungee-jumping pig at a tourist site in Southwest China surfaced online.

Harbin Travel Guide: Attractions, Tips, Food, Weather and More

Your ultimate guide on what to do, see, eat and more in Harbin.

Bruce Lee’s Daughter Sues Chinese Fast Food Chain

If you’ve ever walked past a Real Kung Fu fast food joint and thought, ‘Geez, Louise, that logo sure looks a lot like Bruce Lee,’ then you aren’t alone.

South China Slaughterhouse Busted Butchering Sick Pigs

A Foshan slaughterhouse has been ordered to close down for rectification.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at thatsonline for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in China With

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday


Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Magazines!

Visit the archives

Get the App. Your essential China city companion.