Scientists from the Boston University School of Medicine just identified a new compound that inhibitis viruses from replicating themselves. This finding was published in the Journal of Virology
The experiments were done in a lab in Maryland with Monkeypox. Poxviruses, such as smallpox, vaccinia virus and the Monkeypox virus, invade the host cells and replicate, causing diseases. Smallpox, a deadly poxvirus that killed hundreds of millions of people worldwide, was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1979 after successful vaccination efforts. Recently data shows that a number of people are being infected by Monkeypox and it is increasing globally.
How do viruses replicate themselves? Once a virus has found a suitable host that is made up of the type of host cells that its virus type uses (i.e., plant, animal ~ including insects to humans, or bacteria), it attaches to the host. Then the virus implants the “key” to its genetic makeup into the cell. When this DNA “key” (or RNA in some viruses) of the virus is inserted into cells of a host, it allows the cells to be snatched and, at the appropriate time for that particular virus, it instructs the host to make more virus particles. The virus can either lie dormant, such as in some cases of the HIV/AIDS virus, or immediately become active and order the host cell to start the replication processes.
If the virus becomes active, it can then turn the host cell into a ‘factory’ for making more viruses. The result usually, but not always, is that the host becomes ill because the cells are no longer functioning as they should for the host while working on the job of the replication. With each cycle of replication, the virus particles can invade even more and more cells until the host’s immune system can catch up to kill the invader.
The researchers in Boston looked for specific compounds that that could stop the vaccinia from replicating inside the human cells. They ended up finding several compounds that did just that. They then tested the compounds on the Monkeypox virus itself and found similar results. This research could lead to development of new compounds that can fight the viruses and stop them from replicating themselves.
Could you envision a world without viruses?