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Scripps research team solves structure of 'beneficial' virus
Date:10/8/2008

The 3-D structure of the virus, known as Seneca Valley Virus-001, reveals that it is unlike any other known member of the Picornaviridae viral family, and confirms its recent designation as a separate genus "Senecavirus." The new study reveals that the virus's outer protein shell looks like a craggy golf ballone with uneven divets and raised spikesand the RNA strand beneath it is arranged in a round mesh rather like a whiffleball.

"It is not at all like other known picornaviruses that we are familiar with, including poliovirus and rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold," says the study's senior author, Associate Professor Vijay S. Reddy, Ph.D., of The Scripps Research Institute. "This crystal structure will now help us understand how Senecavirus works, and how we can take advantage of it."

The Senecavirus is a "new" virus, discovered several years ago by Neotropix Inc., a biotech company in Malvern, Pennsylvania. It was at first thought to be a laboratory contaminant, but researchers found it was a pathogen, now believed to originate from cows or pigs. Further investigation found that the virus was harmless to normal human cells, but could infect certain solid tumors, such as small cell lung cancer, the most common form of lung cancer.

Scientists at Neotrophix say that, in laboratory and animal studies, the virus demonstrates cancer-killing specificity that is 10,000 times higher than that seen in traditional chemotherapeutics, with no overt toxicity. The company has developed the "oncolytic" virus as an anti-cancer agent and is already conducting early phase clinical trials in patients with lung cancer.

But the researchers still did not know how the virus worked, so they turned to Reddy. He and his Scripps Research team, especially Sangita Venkataraman, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher, determined the Senecavirus crystal structure.

Reddy describes the differences they found between other picornaviruses and the S
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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