Potential therapeutic targets to fight dengue fever identifiedApril 23rd, 2009 - 5:09 pm ICT by ANI
London, April 23 (ANI): Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have identified potential therapeutic targets to fight dengue fever.
By painstakingly silencing genes one at a time, they have identified dozens of proteins the dengue fever virus depends upon to grow and spread among mosquitoes and humans.
“Dengue is a nasty disease, and right now, there is no treatment for it and no way to prevent it. But if we can find a weakness in the virus, we can design a strategy to fight it. This study has helped us identify some gaps in dengue’s armour,” said Mariano Garcia-Blanco, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University Medical Center and senior author of the study.
Garcia-Blanco used RNA interference (RNAi) to unlock dengue’s secrets. RNA interference is a normal biological process cells use to turn gene expression on or off depending upon which gene products, or proteins, are needed at any given moment.
“That very same system proved to be the perfect investigative tool for our study,” said Garcia-Blanco.
Garcia-Blanco and colleagues in Duke’s RNAi facility were able to knock down gene function in fruit fly cells infected with a strain of the dengue virus known as DENV-2.
Silencing one gene at a time (there were about 14,000 of them) allowed researchers to pinpoint which genes, or host factors, were essential to viral growth and which ones were not.
They used fruit flies as a model because the genetic tools needed for the same work in mosquitoes have not been developed yet.
The process yielded 116 host factors that appeared to be important to successful dengue infection in fruit flies.
In testing several of these host factors in mosquitoes at Johns Hopkins University, researchers subsequently discovered that at least one - and possibly a second - was necessary for dengue infection to occur in the insects.
Researchers also infected human cells with the DENV-2 virus and found 82 of the mosquito genes had analogous genes in humans. About half that number turned out to be dengue-specific host factors important in human infection.
“Each one of these newly identified host factors is a potential therapeutic target that could be used to block or slow dengue infection,” said Garcia-Blanco.
Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent the disease, “so new ways to fight the disease are important,” he added.
The study appears in the April 23 issue of the journal Nature. (ANI)
- Scientists identify protein that helps dengue virus grow - Apr 23, 2009
- Built-in dengue virus killer found in humans - Jun 24, 2012
- How H1N1 virus infects body - Dec 22, 2009
- Interfering genes protect monkeys from lethal Ebola virus post-exposure - May 30, 2010
- How interferon-induced genes launch antiviral defenses - Apr 11, 2011
- Small molecules 'could block cell proliferation in cancerous human tumor' - Apr 14, 2011
- Now a portable tool to detect dengue mosquitoes! - May 23, 2012
- Researchers find bacterium to trip malarial mosquitoes - Dec 25, 2009
- Promising new approach to blocking malaria transmission - Dec 05, 2010
- Microbial 'mosquito net' to aid in fight against mosquito-borne disease - Dec 25, 2009
- 'Travel, urbanisation have led to 50-fold rise in dengue cases' - Sep 17, 2012
- Can GM mosquitoes wipe out dengue? - Oct 24, 2010
- New discovery could shrink dengue-spreading mosquito population - Dec 03, 2010
- Tiny molecules that protect from dangers of sex identified - Nov 15, 2010
- Coming soon: A trap to trick pregnant mosquitoes! - Dec 26, 2010
Tags: dengue fever virus, dengue virus, duke university medical, duke university medical center, fruit flies, fruit fly, garcia blanco, gene expression, genetic tools, host factors, human cells, investigative tool, johns hopkins university, mariano garcia, molecular genetics, nasty disease, rna interference, therapeutic targets, university medical center, viral growth