Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tipping the battle between host and virus in our favor

I got tired of trying to make this not get cut off. I think this is a really cool topic, though, so I encourage you to edit the text so you can see the whole thing!
Researchers at McGill University have found a way of tipping the battle between host and virus in our favor.  By knocking out two genes that suppress expression of IFN in mice, they were able to make the animals effectively immune to influenza virus (Orthomyxoviridae), encephalomyocarditis virus (Picornaviridae), VSV (Rhabdoviridae), and Sindbis virus (Togaviridae).  This technique has a lot of promise in reducing our
susceptibility to viral infection, especially because they found no adverse side effects in the mice that
underwent the therapy.  Obviously, you can't knock out genes in humans, but you can effectively
silence them by destroying their protein product or their transcription factors.  It is important to realize that this therapy probably wouldn't be useful in protecting against
DNA viruses, because it is the dsRNA that IFN responds to.  Furthermore, many of the
symptoms of viral infection (i.e., myalgia) are due to the IFN response, so you might be
miserable anyway, but you won't be infectious!  It's understandable how these less serious
complications  were overlooked in the study mice: you can't exactly ask a mouse how they're


McGill University (2008, February 14). Genetic Breakthrough Supercharges Immunity To Flu And Other Viruses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from

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