Until now, very little has been known about the mechanism vaccinia viruses use to infiltrate a cell. Professor Helenius, whose research objective is to find out what methods and strategies various different viruses employ to invade somatic cells, clarified This strategy is a new one. Other viruses, such as herpes, adeno and H1 viruses use macropinocytosis. However the vaccinia virus is the first one identified that uses apoptotic mimicry as an entry strategy.
Knowledge of the virus strategies and the signal proteins involved in the ingestion of a virus by a cell is crucial to finding and developing new agents against the pathogens. Until now, antiviral medication has targeted the virus itself. Ari Helenius, however, is looking for substances that interrupt the signaling chain and halt the communication between the virus and the cell. If the cell does not ingest a virus, the virus cannot reproduce and is quickly eliminated by the immune system. This process also has another big advantage: Viruses cannot adapt to the obstruction of the signal chain all that quickly, he said.
Smallpox: a bioterrorist attack?
The vaccinia virus belongs to a family of particularly dangerous viruses, namely the pox viruses. The most infamous member, Variola, the casitive agent of smallpox constituted a global pandemic disease in the
|Contact: Jason Mercer|
ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology