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Research points to potential window for treating CMV and preventing mother-to-child transmission
Date:10/30/2013

onal age, while viral spread from blood plasma to the kidneys occurred about 11 weeks later. "This timing," said Kowalik, "may provide an important window for treating CMV when it is most vulnerable and before it can evolve and spread."

Additional study showed that natural selection, the process through which certain advantageous biological traits become more common, results in as much as 20 percent of the viral genes changing as it moved from one biological niche to another. "Not surprisingly, the genes impacted by this selection process affect several viral functions involved in dissemination, including viral replication in distinct cell types and evasion of the host immune response, and are required to allow the virus to move to and replicate efficiently in different organs," said lead author of the study, Nicholas Renzette, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at UMMS.

This new understanding of how CMV adapts and evolves after infection provides researchers with potential targets for treating the disease, said Kowalik. "This work shows that CMV infection spreads during a relatively small window during gestation, suggesting an opportunity for preventative treatments," he said. "Furthermore, the delay between initial fetal infection and dissemination to the kidneys, may present a window for stopping spread of the virus throughout the body, thereby preventing symptoms of infection, such as hearing loss."

The next step for Renzette, Kowalik and colleagues is to determine which genetic changes associated with immune responses to infection may be amendable to potential treatments.


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Contact: Jim Fessenden
james.fessenden@umassmed.edu
508-856-2000
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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