Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dengue Lipid Manipulation May Be a Target for Inhibition

Research published in PLoS has indicated that the synthesis of new virions in a cell infected by dengue virus depends on specific manipulations of cellular lipids in order to create proper structures for viral assembly and prevent an immune system response to the infection. This is of unique interest because, as we've seen in class, any process uniquely performed by a virus that is critical for replication is a potential target for treatment since it differentiates infected cell processes from normal cell processes so that a chemical agent will inhibit the virus while ignoring regular cells.

Researchers primarily at Purdue University used hihg-resolution mass spectroscopy to probe the 'lipidome', the full array of all unique lipid components, of healthy cells in comparison to those infected by dengue. They found that the infected cells contained ratios of lipid classes that were distinctly different from those of normal cells. Further research indicated that several signaling pathways were manipulated in order to effect this change. Not only does this research improve our basic molecular biology understanding of dengue, but it also has implications for potential treatment. Because much of the lipid synthesis used in dengue's manipulation is a result of the enzyme fatty acid synthase, inhibitors of this enzyme have already been shown to reduce viral replication. It may be too early to say for sure, but this could represent a new way of developing anti-viral medication specifically for dengue.

-Zachary Herrera

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