Influenza: Viruses hijack the mechanism for iron entry into cells


Influenza viruses invade human cells by hijacking the iron import machinery. A research team from the University of Geneva discovered this. This new discovery should help fight epidemics in the future.

Influenza A viruses bind to transferrin receptor 1, the University of Geneva announced in a broadcast. Transferrin receptor 1 is normally responsible for transporting iron molecules into the cell.

Influenza A viruses, along with influenza B viruses, are the cause of influenza epidemics. They kill half a million people worldwide every year. These viruses can also have devastating effects on animals, as in the case of bird flu.

Clinical application is still elusive

In study now In the magazine “PNAS” published, the researchers were able to show that the ability of these viruses to penetrate cells is significantly reduced when the relevant receptor is blocked. A chemical molecule was used to block the receptor. In tests on mice and human lung tissue samples, the virus multiplied much less frequently.

The problem: Due to its potentially carcinogenic properties, this product cannot be used to treat humans. According to the study, clinical application is still a long way off. However, the authors are convinced that blocking transferrin receptor 1 could be a promising strategy for treating influenza infection.


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