Scientists have identified a molecule targeted by dengue virus in mice to bring about the haemorrhagic fever associated with lethal disease. The research, reported online in Nature, could help the development of therapeutic agents for this and other viral diseases.
Dengue is mosquito borne and infects at least 50 million people a year, but little is known about how the virus causes disease. Shie-Liang Hsieh and colleagues show that it hijacks the CLEC5A molecule on immune cells to cause a massive release of potent inflammatory agents known as cytokines. These cytokines are probably responsible for the inappropriate inflammation that causes haemorrhagic fever.
Using antibodies to block the interaction between CLEC5A and dengue virus, the team found that they could prevent inflammation without affecting the normal immune response to virus infection. What's more, 50% of mice treated with these antibodies managed to clear the virus. This ability to control inflammation and simultaneously maintain natural viral immunity makes CLEC5A an exciting prospect for the development of treatment agents, say the authors.
Shie-Liang Hsieh (National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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