BREAKTHROUGH! Boston Researchers Identify New Target For Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Treatment That Can Be Used For Corvid-19 Coronavirus.
The covid-19 coronavirus
outbreak has shown that viruses
are a constant threat to humanity. We have been through Ebola, Zika, SARS and MERS episodes but have yet to build up an arsenal of drugs and vaccines that can have a broad-spectrum effect on viruses
from specific classes or families.
Though vaccines are regularly developed and deployed against specific viruses
, the process takes a lot of time, and does not help everyone who needs immediate protection, plus it still leaves individuals exposed and vulnerable to new outbreaks and new viruses as they emerge.
Medical and genomic researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered a new potential antiviral
drug target that could lead to treatments protecting against a host of infectious diseases to the point of creating a pan, or universal, treatment that can also be used agains the coronavirus
The medical and genomic researchers have uncovered that the protein Argonaute 4
is an "Achilles heel" for viruses
is one of a family of AGO
proteins. Till now, there has been little evidence or understanding of why they are important or critical on the cellular level.The medical and genomic researchers, led by Dr Kate L. Jeffrey, PhD, and her collaborators found that AGO4
plays a key role protecting cells against viral infections.
It was observed that specifically, this protein is uniquely antiviral
in mammalian immune cells.
The researchers studied the anti-viral
effects of several Argonaute
proteins, and found that only cells that were deficient in AGO4
were "hyper-susceptible" to viral infection. In other words, low levels of AGO4
make mammalian cells more likely to become infected.
This findings of the research was published by Cell Reports.
The medical researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital suggest that boosting levels of AGO4
could shore up the immune system to protect against multiple viruses
including the coronaviruses.
Dr Jeffrey Told Thailand Medical News
,"The goal is to understand how our immune system works so we can create treatments that work against a range of viruses
, rather than just vaccines against a particular one."
Typically, mammals have four Argonaute
proteins (1-4), which act by silencing genes and which are remarkably conserved throughout multiple living things, including plants. These are RNAi and microRNA effector proteins and RNAi is the major antiviral defense strategy in plants and invertebrates. Studies of influenza infected mice have shown that AGO4
-deficient animals have significantly higher levels of the virus
Dr Jeffrey added, “The next
steps are to determine how broad spectrum this is to any virus
type. Then we need to discover how to boost AGO4
to ramp up protection against viral infections."
The researchers are confident that the protocol would work against the coronavirus
as initial lab studies have already demonstrated that it works and are next planning testing on animal models before moving on to actual human clinical trials.
Journal Reference: Fatemeh Adiliaghdam, Megha Basavappa, Tahnee L. Saunders, Dewi Harjanto, John T. Prior, D. Alexander Cronkite, Nina Papavasiliou, Kate L. Jeffrey. A Requirement for Argonaute 4 in Mammalian Antiviral Defense. Cell Reports, 2020; 30 (6): 1690 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.021
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