Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study raises the possibility that some antiviral drugs could make diseases worse

14.01.2010
Research published in the journal Genetics suggests that mutagenic drugs designed to kill viruses may make them stronger

As the flu season continues in full-swing, most people can appreciate the need for drugs that stop viruses after they take hold in the body. Despite this serious need for new drugs, a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin raise serious concerns about an emerging strategy for stopping viral infections.

According to their research report appearing in the January 2010 issue of the journal GENETICS, medications that cause viruses to die off by forcing their nucleic acid to mutate rapidly might actually, in some instances, cause them to emerge from the process stronger, perhaps even more virulent than before drug treatment.

"This work questions whether the practice of 'lethal mutagenesis' of viruses works as predicted," said Jim Bull, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the study from the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. "It remains to be seen whether an elevated mutation rate that does not cause rapid viral extinction enhances treatment or may instead thwart treatment by enhancing viral evolution." Bull's research collaborators included Rachael Springman, Thomas Keller, and Ian Molineux from the same institution.

Scientists tested the model of viral evolution at high mutation rates by growing a DNA virus in the presence of a mutagenic agent. The current accepted model predicted that the virus would not be able to handle the high mutation rates and would eventually die off. However, this study proved the model false, as the virus actually increased its fitness at elevated mutation rates. During this study, scientists found molecular evidence that rapid mutations had two effects. The first effect of most mutations, which was expected, was that they killed or weakened the virus. The second effect of some mutations, however, was that they actually helped the virus adapt and thrive. Although the researchers did not question that extremely high mutation will lead to viral extinction on the whole, this discovery raises the specter that forcing viruses to undergo rapid mutations could, if the mutation rate is not high enough, accidentally lead to well-adapted "super viruses."

"This study should raise more than a few eyebrows over this approach to stopping viruses," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS, "because the last thing anyone wants to do is make a bad situation worse. More work must be done to determine the actual likelihood of this approach yielding a super virus, knowing that it is possible is a big help in preventing what could be a very big problem."

DETAILS: R. Springman, T. Keller, I. J. Molineux, and J. J. Bull
Evolution at a High Imposed Mutation Rate: Adaptation Obscures the Load in Phage T7

Genetics, Jan 2010; 184: 221 - 232.

Since 1916, GENETICS has covered high quality, original research on a range of topics bearing on inheritance, including population and evolutionary genetics, complex traits, developmental and behavioral genetics, cellular genetics, gene expression, genome integrity and transmission, and genome and systems biology. GENETICS, the peer-reviewed, peer-edited journal of the Genetics Society of America is one of the world's most cited journals in genetics and heredity.

Tracey DePellegrin Connelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cmu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>