Compounds called defensins-known to prevent viruses from entering cells-appear to do so by preventing the virus from merging to cells' outer membrane, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, both of the National Institutes of Health, and the University of California at Los Angeles.
The study, appearing in the online issue of September 11 Nature Immunology, also received funding from NIH's National Center for Research Resources.
This discovery provides a basic understanding of a first-line defense against such viruses as HIV and the influenza virus, said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NICHD. This finding may ultimately lead to new strategies for preventing viral illness, and to increased understanding of why some individuals are more resistant to certain kinds of viral infection than are other individuals.
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