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Could it be the begining of the end for Dengue

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Treatment for West Nile and Dengue closer after University of Alberta discovery

First posted: Thursday, December 17, 2015 02:46 PM MST



Treatment and prevention of diseases caused by West Nile virus and Dengue virus infections are closer after a discovery by University of Alberta researchers.

The research examines a previously unknown connection between flaviviruses -- including West Nile virus, Dengue virus and tick-borne encephalitis virus -- and organelles known as peroxisomes that help coordinate the body's immune responses. Postdoctoral fellow Jaehwan You and PhD student Shangmei Hou, lead authors on the study, found that flaviviruses induce degradation of a protein called Pex19, which is essential for the building of new peroxisomes, setting off a chain reaction that could leave the body more vulnerable to viral infection.

"Peroxisomes, as it turns out, are required for production of an antiviral molecule called interferon lambda," says Tom Hobman, senior author and professor of cell biology at the U of A. "Interferon lambda is produced by infected cells and has been shown to inhibit replication of multiple viruses. We hypothesized that loss of peroxisomes results in the loss of the ability of the cells to produce this interferon, which indeed was found to be the case. "It looks like the virus may be targeting peroxisomes to prevent antiviral defence by the cell."

The study found that in infected cells, about 35 per cent of the peroxisomes had disappeared. Production of interferon was also down by about 80 per cent.

West Nile virus is the most prevalent mosquito transmitted pathogen in North America, with infected patients at risk of developing severe neurological disease. Dengue virus is a related virus, with more than 400 million infections worldwide every year. There is currently no vaccine or treatment available for either virus.

"It's certainly within the realm of possibility that if peroxisomes play this key role in antiviral defence, it may be possible to take drugs that are known to boost peroxisome production to provide protection against the viruses," says Hobman.

Researchers believe it's likely that other viruses may also target peroxisomes in a similar manner to flaviviruses. They hope to now show it through new studies.

"I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg," says Hobman. "

Study funding was provided by Alberta Innovates: Health Solutions, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canada Research Chairs

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Sure hope real progress is made soon fighting this deadly illness. On thread about Headshot, it was scary to read how many members have had it. I know friends who've gotten it in various tropical places, and, thankfully, I've been lucky so far. Knock wood.

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