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Herpes: Scientists find cellular process that fights virus
Date:3/23/2009

This release is available in French.

Montreal, March 23, 2009 Scientists have discovered a new way for our immune system to combat the elusive virus responsible for cold sores: Type 1 herpes simplex (HSV-1). As reported in the advance online edition of Nature Immunology, a group of virus hunters from the Universit de Montral, in collaboration with American colleagues, have identified a cellular process that seeks out and fights herpes.

The five-year study, partially supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, was a joint project with Washington University and Pennsylvania State University.

"Once human cells are infected with Type 1 herpes simplex, the virus comes back because it hides and blocks protection from our immune system," says Luc English, the study's lead author and a doctoral student at the Universit de Montral's Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. "For the first time, our research team has indentified a combative cellular mechanism in this game of hide-and-seek."

"We've found that the nuclear membrane of an infected cell can unmask Type 1 herpes simplex and stimulate the immune system to disintegrate the virus," says English.

The team made its discovery while conducting various tests in HSV-1 infected mice cells. They replicated environments when Type 1 herpes simplex thrives, namely periods of low-grade fever between 38.5 to 39 degrees, and found that herpes-fighting mechanisms were unleashed.

The research team now plans to study how activation of the herpes-combating cellular process could be applied to other illnesses. The outcome could hasten the development of therapies to prevent other immune-evading bacteria, parasites and viruses. "Our goal is to further study the molecules implicated in this mechanism to eventually develop therapies against diseases such as HIV or even cancer," say
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Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
sylvain-jacques.desjardins@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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