Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mimicking viruses may provide new way to defeat them

29.03.2004


Viruses, often able to outsmart many of the drugs designed to defeat them, may have met their match, according to new research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



The findings show that the introduction of a harmless molecule that uses the same machinery a virus needs to grow may be a potent way to shut down the virus before it infects other cells or becomes resistant to drugs. The results are published in the March issue of the journal, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

"When a virus encounters a susceptible cell, it enters and says, ’I’m now the boss,’" explains John Yin, a UW-Madison associate professor of chemical and biological engineering and senior author of the paper. "It pirates the cell’s resources to produce virus progeny that, following release from the host cell, can infect other cells."


The current technique to stop a virus in its tracks is to develop drugs that bind to and block the function of virus proteins - molecules the virus produces, with the aid of host cells that help the virus replicate, or make copies of itself. The drugs, says Yin, are like hammers that knock out key functions that the virus uses for growth and reproduction.

But, he points out, this antiviral approach cannot always outsmart the virus: "When a virus reproduces, it doesn’t do so perfectly. Sometimes, it inserts genetic typos, creating variations that may allow some versions of the virus proteins to develop an evolutionary advantage, such as drug resistance."

While improvements in molecular biology and chemistry have led to new drugs that precisely target virus proteins, they have not been able to stop viruses from producing drug-resistant strains.

"Despite advances in the development of antiviral therapies over the last decade, the emergence and outgrowth of drug-resistant virus strains remains problematic," says Hwijin Kim, a UW-Madison graduate student in the chemical and biological engineering department, and co-author of the March paper.

Given that drug-resistant virus mutants can arise, Kim and Yin wondered if there might be some antiviral strategies that are harder for a virus to beat. An unexplored approach came to mind.

Rather than designing a drug molecule that inhibits virus proteins, the UW-Madison researchers created a molecule that acts just like the parasitic virus: It enters the cell and hijacks the very machinery the virus requires for its own growth. But unlike the virus, the diversionary molecules are much smaller, meaning they can grow a lot faster and steal away even more resources from the virus. Plus, they don’t encode any virus proteins, which renders them powerless inside a cell, says Yin.

Although the diversionary molecules do need resources from the cell to work, Yin clarifies, "they essentially shut down virus growth while expending only a small fraction of the resources that the virus would normally use."

Yin and Kim analyzed the potency of this parasitic antiviral approach in computational models where E. coli had been infected with a particular virus. For the diversionary molecule, they introduced a short piece of RNA that competes for the same resources as the infectious virus to replicate. The researchers note that the models are based on experimental data and decades of biophysical and biochemical studies.

The analysis shows that when the parasitic molecule was absent, the virus had produced more than 10,000 copies of itself in less than 20 minutes after infection. In the presence of the parasitic molecule, however, no new progeny of the virus existed. The analysis, says Yin, also shows that the diversionary molecules had grown in number by more than 10,000-fold just 10 minutes after infection, further suggesting that the molecule successfully stole away resources from the virus.

"The parasitic strategy outperformed the non-parasitic strategies at all levels," says Kim. "It inhibited viral growth, even at a low dose, placed minimal demands on the intracellular resources of the host cell and was effective when introduced either before or during the infection cycle." One other important finding, he adds, is that the strategy created no obvious way for the virus to develop drug-resistant strains.

"Our calculations suggest that this antiviral strategy is a very effective approach and one that is very difficult for a virus to overcome," says Yin. "There are definite technical challenges to implementing this approach, but the findings do open the door to a broader way of thinking about antiviral strategies."

Yin says the next step is for researchers to test these ideas inside living cells.


Emily Carlson (608) 262-9772, emilycarlson@wisc.edu

Emily Carlson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Periodic ventilation keeps more pollen out than tilted-open windows

29.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Researchers discover dust plays prominent role in nutrients of mountain forest ecoystems

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

OLED production facility from a single source

29.03.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>