Medical Research: German Scientists Identify Human Host Factors Crucial for H1N1/H5N1 Influenza Virus Replication

Despite substantial development efforts that go into antiviral drugs and vaccines for influenza, viruses are able to develop resistance due to their high mutation rates.

In a recent issue of Nature, a team of German moleclar biologists make the case that by targeting host rather than viral factors, it may be possible to develop flu treatments against a wide array of influenza viruses, while minimizing the likelihood of drug resistant mutations.

Employing a technique called RNA Interference (RNAi) screening, the scientists were able to identify 287 human genes affecting flu virus replication.  This included several genes previously implicated in flu replication such as NXF1 and XPO1.

RNA interference is a process in which translation of some of a cell’s messenger RNA (mRNA) sequences is prevented or interrupted. RNA interference is believed to protect the cell against viruses and other threats.” “Two types of small RNA molecules – microRNA (miRNA) and small interfering RNA (siRNA) – are central to RNA interference. These small RNAs can bind to specific other RNAs and either increase or decrease their activity.”

When siRNAs were targeted at the 287 genes in flu-infected lung tissue cells, the scientists found 119 of the genes inhibited non-pandemic H1N1, and 121 of the genes inhibited pandemic H1N1 (a five times or greater decrease). There was a 60% overlap between both gene groups. Another subset of both groups inhibited replication of the highly lethal H5N1 virus “by at least two orders of magnitude.”

Editor’s Note: These findings, along with earlier research by American researchers who employed similar molecular techniques, are providing a greater insights into the body’s natural defenses against the flu.

See also: H1N1 Research: Scientists discover natural flu-fighting proteins.

Life Extension - Health And Medical Findings

Answers.com: RNA Interference
GWDN: German Team Finds Host Factors Needed For Flu Virus Replication
Nature: Genome-wide RNAi screen identifies human host factors crucial for influenza virus replication

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