Blocking calcium pathways shown to prevent hemorrhagic virus spread

Researchers found that blocking calcium signals is able to prevent a hemorrhagic virus (colored green) from spreading outside of its host cell. | Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania
Researchers from the Department of Pathobiology of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine have discovered that blocking a calcium pathway can prevent the spread of hemorrhagic viruses, they announced this week.

According to Bruce Freedman and Ronald Harty, blocking a calcium signaling pathway has been successful in inhibiting the Ebola, Lassa, Marburg and Junin viruses. According to their report, this could potentially lead to a broad spectrum antiviral treatment for multiple viral diseases.

"One of the exciting aspects of this approach is its ability to provide broad-spectrum inhibition of budding of hemorrhagic fever viruses that we're interested in, as well as other viruses that bud using similar mechanisms," Hardy said.

Calcium signaling serves as an important regulatory process that is involved in many activities at the cellular level. Hardy and Freedman have previously hypothesized that viruses also need these signaling processes in order to perform several functions, including spreading from one cell to another.

In order to conduct the study, they utilized virus-like particles that are non-infectious. With these, the team was able to study viral samples and the host cells. In the study, particles from Ebola, Marburg, Junin and Lassa viruses saw significant reductions, 100 times over in some cases.

Researchers said that these findings could also help in the treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

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