As winter descends on the Western hemisphere, public health concerns turn to influenza, which kills several people - particularly the elderly - each year. Now scientists may have discovered the specific part of the influenza virus that is responsible for killing host immune cells sent to destroy it. In doing so, they may have pinpointed a target for new flu therapies (Nature Medicine).
Jonathan Yewdell and colleagues at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have discovered that a peptide segment within the virus called PB1-F2 is responsible for triggering cell death (apoptosis) in immune cells of the host. This same fragment does not, however, contribute to the ability of the virus to infect cells.
Robert Lamb and Makoto Takeda of Northwestern University, Illinois, discuss the ability of the influenza virus to mutate and develop new strategies of infection in an accompanying News & Views article.
Dr. Jonathan W. Yewdell
Laboratory of Viral Diseases
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Phone: +1 301-496-7533
Fax: +1 301 402 7362
Dr. Robert A. Lamb
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Deptartments of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology
Phone: +1 847 491 5433
Fax: +1 847 491 2467
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza