Virus discovery could pave way for new treatments

Viruses can ‘hijack’ an existing molecular process in the cell in order to block the body’s antiviral immune response to a viral infection, researchers have found, saying the discovery could lead to new ways of treating viruses, including Covid-19.

The discovery could pave the way for a new way of treating viruses.

The scientists, from Queen's University, Belfast and McGill University in Montreal, said further research will determine if targeting this cellular mechanism could be used to more effectively treat viral infections.

To conduct their study, the researchers looked at how healthy cells control the levels of the molecules known as ‘Interferon-ß’ or ‘Interferon beta'. They discovered a molecular process used by the virus that blocks the synthesis of Interferon-ß, blocking the immune system.

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Dr Seyed Mehdi Jafarnejad, principal investigator from the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University, said: “We hope this new understanding of how viruses can hijack existing cellular processes in the body will lead to better treatments of viral infections and ultimately save lives.”

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