Friday , October 22 2021

Spanish researchers discover a strategy that viruses use to avoid the immune system



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VALÈNCIA (EP). A team of researchers at the Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) discovered a new strategy used by viruses to get rid of the body's immune system.

The finding, published in Nature Communications, could help improve the effectiveness of therapies for some autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus or Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome.

The human body has a type of molecule, the interferons, that can slow the progress of pathogens, especially viruses. However, an uncontrolled activity of interferon is also the main cause of the condition associated with a group of autoimmune diseases known as interferonopathies, including those mentioned.

"This study investigates the molecular mechanisms of a similar feature used by poxviruses to avoid interferon-based host organism response," said the CSIC researcher. Antonio Alcamí.

"These viruses produce a soluble receptor that binds very efficiently to interferon to neutralize it and prevent it from performing its antiviral activity," Alcamí continued.

The researchers used two different models of poxvirus infection. First, a mouse virus that causes a smallpox-like disease and, second, the virus used to vaccinate against the disease until it is eradicated, the vaccine virus.

"In both cases, binding of the viral interferon receptor to the cell surfaces provided a retention mechanism in the area of ​​infection, which prevented its dispersion and potentiated its action where it was most needed as the infection progressed. virus, because without it, it is unable to block the protective response of the host and the infection is neutralized, "explained the CSIC researcher. Bruno Hernáez.

Current therapies

To date, current therapies based on the disruption of biological activity of interferon, as specific antibodies against this molecule, have not been fully effective in treating these diseases.

The results of this work provide a possible explanation for the lack of effectiveness of current therapies in interferonopathies and raise the possibility of modifying these molecules and increasing the efficacy of anti-interferon therapies.

"In short, this is a new lesson taught to us by poxviruses that throughout their evolution have been able to improve and optimize the tools they have available to fight against our immune system." We can now use some of these modifications. viral to do the same in those diseases where our immune system and inflammatory processes cause confusion to be deregulated, "said Alcamí.

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