Researchers at McGill University have discovered a way to boost an organism¡¯s natural anti-virus defences, effectively making its cells immune to influenza and other viruses.
The research was conducted by post-doctoral fellows Dr. Rodney Colina and Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli, working in collaboration with Dr. Nahum Sonenberg, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Scholar at McGill. They worked with colleagues at l'Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montr¨¦al (IRCM) and the Ottawa Health Research Institute (OHRI). Their results are to be published February 13 in the journal Nature.
Their process ¨C which could lead to the development of new anti-viral therapies in humans ¨C involved knocking out two genes in mice that repress production of the protein interferon, the cell¡¯s first line of defence against viruses. Without these repressor genes, the mouse cells produced much higher levels of interferon, which effectively blocked viruses from reproducing. The researchers tested the process on influenza virus, encephalomyocarditis virus, vesicular stomatitis virus and Sindbis virus.
¡°People have been worried for years about potential new viral pandemics, such as avian influenzas,¡± Dr. Sonenberg said. ¡°If we might now have the means to develop a new therapy to fight flu, the potential is huge.¡±
Viruses are sub-microscopic infectious agents which can reproduce only by hijacking a cell¡¯s reproductive machinery, a process that usually leads to disease and even the death of the host organism. Interferon, in particular the type 1 interferons (IFN-¦Á and IFN-¦Â) suppress virus propagation. Production of type 1 interferon is controlled by the interferon regulatory protein 7 (Irf7), which researchers believe to be the ¡°master-regulator¡± of interferon production in the body. The McGill researchers found that protein synthesis of Irf7 is controlled by the repressor genes called 4E-BP1 and 4E-BP2.
¡°In a sense, it¡¯s quite a simple story,¡± Dr. Costa-Mattioli explained. ¡°When you get rid of the repressors, you have more of the key protein Irf7 present, which induces an anti-viral state in the cell. You¡¯re basically removing the brakes.¡±
The researchers detected no abnormalities or negative side-effects resulting from enhanced interferon production in the mice, Dr. Costa-Mattioli said. Dr. Sonenberg explained that the process of knocking out genes is not possible in humans, but the researchers are optimistic new pharmaceutical therapies will evolve from their research.
¡°If we are able to target 4E-BP1 and 4E-BP2 with drugs, we will have a molecule that can protect you from viral infection. That¡¯s a very exciting idea.¡± Dr. Costa-Mattiolo said. ¡°We don't have that yet, but it¡¯s the obvious next step.¡±
Mark Shainblum | EurekAlert!
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering