Study finds new therapy potential for viruses

TSRI Associate Professor Hyeryun Choe led a study that may facilitate future treatment options for viral infections. | Courtesy of the Scripps Research Institute

Researchers at the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) found an infection process in viruses including West Nile, Ebola and dengue this week.

This study, led by TSRI Associate Professor Hyeryun Choe, has been published in the the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and indicates that the infection process may be able to be mitigated through an experimental antibiotic.

The process that was found by the team is present in multiple virus families, an institute representative stated, including those of emerging diseases.

“Most of these viruses use a specific molecule to enter cells,” Choe said. “In the new study, we were able to show how a second molecule plays a major and previously unknown role in that process. We also show an antibiotic called duramycin inhibits the actions of this molecule. This looks to be a promising broad-spectrum antiviral strategy and deepens our understanding of the entire infection process.”

The process consists of what triggers during the death of a cell and indicates that phagocytes — cells that consume dead cells — and using these to spread infection. The research team found that Duramycin, a compound currently used as an imaging agent, is capable of blocking viral entry in this fashion by binding to receptors that would be utilized on dying cells.

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The Scripps Research Institute 130 Scripps Way Jupiter, FL 33458

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