PerspectiveImmunology

Immunology taught by rats

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Science  14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 129-130
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0184

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Summary

Immunology may be best taught by viruses (1), and possibly by humans (2), but the rats of New York City surprisingly also have plenty to offer. A survey published in 2014 of the pathogens carried by rats trapped in houses and parks in Manhattan identified a huge burden of infectious agents in these animals, including several novel viruses (3). Among these are Norway rat hepaciviruses (NrHVs), which belong to the same family as hepatitis C virus (HCV). NrHVs were found in rat livers, raising the possibility of establishing a small animal model of human HCV infection. On page 204 of this issue, Billerbeck et al. (4) fulfill this prediction.