Missing protein could make cells vulnerable to viral infections

Anuja Vaidya (Twitter) - Print  | 

Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have identified a protein that plays a key role in protecting cells against viral infections. The lack of this protein could make cells more likely to be infected, they said.

Researchers studied the Argonaute family of proteins and examined each protein's antiviral effects. They found that cells that were deficient in Argonaute 4, one of the proteins, were "hyper-susceptible" to viral infections.

The research suggests that boosting Argonaute 4 protein levels could help the immune system protect against multiple viruses and lack of the protein is a potential "Achilles heel" for viruses that infect the human body.

"The goal is to understand how our immune system works so we can create treatments that work against a range of viruses, rather than just vaccines against a particular one," Kate L. Jeffrey, PhD, lead researcher on the project.

Researchers published their findings in Cell Reports.

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