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Potential new treatment for deadly nipah and hendra viruses identified by Weill Cornell researchers
Date:10/28/2010

ege, vice chair of pediatrics for research at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, chief of pediatric infectious diseases and co-corresponding author of the paper, says, "It's crucial that we find treatments for the Nipah and Hendra viruses. In addition to acute infection, they can cause asymptomatic infection in as many as 60 percent of exposed people. They may also lead to late-onset disease or relapse of encephalitis years after initial infection, as well as persistent or delayed neurological problems."

According to Dr. Porotto, it is difficult to treat these pathogens because their "envelope" helps the virus survive and infect other cells. "We know that enveloped viruses must fuse their membrane with the target cell membrane in order to initiate infection, and blocking this step can prevent or treat infection, as has been clinically validated for the HIV virus."

Building on their past work, the team demonstrated in this study that the addition of a cholesterol group to HRC peptides that are active against Nipah virus dramatically increases their antiviral effect. The approach works by using the cholesterol-tagged peptides to target the membrane where the fusion occurs. There, the peptides interact with the fusion peptide before it inserts into the target cell membrane, disrupting the crucial membrane fusion process and preventing infection.

"The cholesterol-tagged HRC-derived peptides cross the blood-brain barrier and help prevent and treat the infection in animals for what would otherwise be fatal Nipah virus encephalitis," Dr. Porotto reports. "This suggests that they are promising candidates for the prevention or therapy of infection by Nipah and other lethal paramyxoviruses and may lead to better treatments for people affected by similar viruses including the measles, mumps and the flu."


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Contact: Andrek Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-820-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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