First Cell Culture System for Growth of Human Norovirus

Improve the Nation's Nutrition and Health
Research Year: 

Noroviruses are the leading cause of human adult diarrhea in the world. In the United States, they are the major cause of foodborne illness. More than 20 outbreaks of norovirus are reported each year in the Arizona alone. No method has been available for the growth of this virus in the laboratory, which is needed for the development of vaccines and methods to prevent outbreaks. The largest number of norovirus infections ever documented occurred in 2006. A new strain has recently evolved which causes a more serious illness with more reported deaths than previous strains. As with all viruses, noroviruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Description of Action: 

A team of investigators at Battelle Laboratories Northwest, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona have developed the first cell system for the growth of the human norovirus in cell culture. Scientists have attempted to accomplish this for decades; this is the first successful attempt reported.


The growth of norovirus in cell culture is a major breakthrough to understanding the pathogen's disease processes, and developing vaccines and methods for the assessment of antimicrobials to prevent outbreaks of this virus. This single development can potentially lead to the control of disease agents responsible for millions of cases of gastroenteritis worldwide, saving billions of dollars in related health costs and lost work hours, and potentially saving thousands of lives.

Funding Agencies: 

American Waterworks Research Foundation

Conact Name: 
Charles Gerba
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

Shantz Bldg., Room 429

PO Box 210038

The University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ 85721

Tel: (520) 621-6906, FAX: (520) 621-1647