A strain of natural human proteins have been found to help ward off swine flu and other viruses including West Nile and dengue, in a discovery that could spur more effective treatments, US researchers said Thursday.
In cultured human cells, researchers lead by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) found that these certain proteins have powerful antiviral effects by blocking the replication of viruses.
The findings, reported Thursday in an online article from the journal Cell, "could lead to the development of more effective antiviral drugs, including prophylactic drugs that could be used to slow influenza transmission," the team said.
The influenza virus, along with the other viruses, must take over proteins in cells to sustain itself. In their study, researchers found some 120 genes that are needed by H1N1 -- commonly known as swine flu.
"But in the process of figuring that out, we found this other class of genes that actually have the opposite effect, so that if you get rid of them, influenza replicates much better," according to HHMI team leader Stephen Elledge at the Harvard Medical School.
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