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Scientists Identify Drug Target For Multiple Mosquito-Transmitted Viruses

Scientists have found how mosquito-transmitted viruses, including dengue and Zika, hijack host cells to promote their own reproduction

Scientists Identify Drug Target For Multiple Mosquito-Transmitted Viruses
Viruses cannot survive on their own. While they contain their own genetic material, they don't carry all the genes or factors they need to live and reproduce

New Delhi: Scientists have found how mosquito-transmitted viruses, including dengue and Zika, hijack host cells to promote their own reproduction. The research, published recently in the journal Cell Host and Microbe, paves the way for developing new therapeutics for these infections with no or very limited treatments. Michaela Gack, Scientific Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Florida Research and Innovation Center said,

Our findings bring us one step closer to understanding and treating currently untreatable mosquito-transmitted pathogens, which are an ever-increasing threat to global human populations. Our commitment to studying viral pathogens and host enzymes in novel ways may ultimately help us develop new, effective treatments to prevent future threats to human health.

Viruses cannot survive on their own. While they contain their own genetic material, they don’t carry all the genes or factors they need to live and reproduce. That is why viruses infect hosts — they hijack mammalian cells to turn them into virus-making factories.

Also Read: Awareness Campaigns To Be Held To Prevent Spread Of Vector-Borne Diseases: Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi

To take control of the infected host cell, the Zika virus, for example, hijacks several proteins inside the cell for its efficient replication.

Humans have many enzymes that “tag” proteins with other molecules allowing them to function properly.

Since the Zika virus is missing certain molecules necessary for its reproduction, it has evolved to utilize a human enzyme called KAT5γ (an acetyltransferase) which helps the virus to amplify its RNA genome in viral replication complexes.

The discovery of KAT5γ’s critical role in virus replication is the key first step in beginning to design inhibitory molecules to stop viral replication and treat infection. The study’s second author Cindy Chiang from Cleveland Clinic, US further explains,

Viruses mutate so much that drugging them directly might lose effectivity over time—this is what is known as antiviral drug resistance. Human proteins don’t change rapidly. Targeting the host’s KAT5γ protein should be much more effective in the long term to treat these viruses.

Also Read: Delhi Government Hospitals On Alert To Deal With Cases Of Conjunctivitis, Vector-Borne Diseases: Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj

The study suggests that creating drugs targeting the human KAT5γ enzyme might help target not only Zika but also several other mosquito-transmitted flaviviruses.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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