Genetic sequence data on two of the deadliest yet most poorly understood viruses are to be made available to researchers worldwide in real time as scientists seek to speed up understanding of Ebola and MERS infections.

The project, led by British scientists with West African and Saudi Arabian collaboration, hopes to encourage laboratories around the world to use the live data — updated as new cases emerge — to find new ways to diagnose and treat the killer diseases, and ideally, ultimately, prevent them.

The gene sequences, already available for MERS cases and soon to come in the case of Ebola, will be posted on the website for anyone to see, access and use.