Sunday, November 13, 2011

How Measles Spreads So Quickly

Measles is one of the most contagious viruses in the world- more than 10 million children are affected each year and roughly 120,000 of the infected die. While a vaccination is available, measles still remains a significant health problem both in the US and globally.
Originally published in Nature online, a report from researchers at the Mayo Clinic sheds some light on just how measles spreads so quickly. Upon exposure, the virus hijacks those cells patrolling the lungs to infect the host, and travels to other immune cells throughout the body. The infected cells deliver their cargo to cells that specifically express the receptor protein nectin-4 - which are located in the trachea. The reproduction of virus in the trachea (and possibly subsequent immune response) provokes a cough, which the newly reproduced are in the perfect position to be carried through, ready to infect the next host.
What is particularly interesting about this finding, aside from the particulars of transmission, is that the receptor protein nectin-4 has been linked by other studies as a biomarker of ovarian, breast, and lunch cancer. Following the ideologial trend that modified viruses may be less toxic than other cancer-treatment alternatives, this finding could prove fruitful to the development of anti-cancer viruses for cancers that express the nectin-4 protein.

read the article here.

-Emily Pollock

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