Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mystery solved: Scientists now know how smallpox kills

Date:
December 23, 2009
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Researchers have solved a fundamental mystery about smallpox that has puzzled scientists long after the natural disease was eradicated by vaccination: they know how it kills us. Scientists can now describe how the virus cripples immune systems by attacking molecules made by our bodies to block viral replication.

A team of researchers working in a high containment laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, have solved a fundamental mystery about smallpox that has puzzled scientists long after the natural disease was eradicated by vaccination.: they know how it kills us. In a new research report appearing online in The FASEB Journal, researchers describe how the virus cripples immune systems by attacking molecules made by our bodies to block viral replication.

This discovery fills a major gap in the scientific understanding of pox diseases and lays the foundation for the development of antiviral treatments, should smallpox or related viruses re-emerge through accident, viral evolution, or terrorist action.

"These studies demonstrate the production of an interferon binding protein by variola virus and monkeypox virus, and point at this viral anti-interferon protein as a target to develop new therapeutics and protect people from smallpox and related viruses," said Antonio Alcami, Ph.D., a collaborator on the study from Madrid, Spain. "A better understanding of how variola virus, one of the most virulent viruses known to humans, evades host defenses will help up to understand the molecular mechanisms that cause disease in other viral infections."

In a high containment laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, scientists produced the recombinant proteins from the variola virus and a similar virus that affects monkeys, causing monkeypox. The researchers then showed that cells infected with variola and monkeypox produced a protein that blocks a wide range of human interferons, which are molecules produced by our immune systems meant to stop viral replication.

"The re-emergence of pox viruses has potentially devastating consequences for people worldwide, as increasing numbers of people lack immunity to smallpox," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Understanding exactly how pox viruses disrupt our immune systems can help us develop defenses against natural and terror-borne pox viruses."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. del Mar Fernandez de Marco et al. The highly virulent variola and monkeypox viruses express secreted inhibitors of type I interferon. The FASEB Journal, 2009; DOI: 10.1096/fj.09-144733

Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Mystery solved: Scientists now know how smallpox kills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105217.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (2009, December 23). Mystery solved: Scientists now know how smallpox kills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105217.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Mystery solved: Scientists now know how smallpox kills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105217.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 13, 2014) Roars of excitement as a proud lioness shows off her four cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins