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Researchers uncover more about how poxviruses evade the immune system
Date:1/31/2008

Scientists at Saint Louis University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham have uncovered important new information about a key protein that allows viruses such as smallpox to replicate and wreak havoc on the immune system.

The findings further our understanding of how the pox family of viruses work to subvert the immune system, the researchers say. They also believe their work could one day be used to develop new drugs to combat a variety of inflammatory and immunological disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and some forms of heart disease.

The research has been published in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (www.pnas.org).

The paper describes the structure and actions of a powerful substance called interferon-gamma binding protein, which is notorious for the role it plays in helping the poxviruses to replicate. The research explores the interferon-gamma binding protein found in the mousepox virus one of the family of viruses that also includes smallpox, monkeypox and cowpox.

Cracking open and describing the structure and actions of interferon-gamma binding protein is incredibly exciting, given the important role this substance plays in subverting the immune system, said Mark Buller, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and one of the studys authors. This breakthrough is something that many others have tried and failed to achieve.

Normally when a virus enters the bloodstream, the immune system responds by producing a substance called interferon-gamma, which assists the development of the immune response thats responsible for ridding the body of the virus.

Poxviruses, however, all come encoded with a potent weapon to evade the immune system: interferon-gamma binding protein. As its name implies, the protein literally binds to interferon-gamma and immobilizes it, preventing it from m
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Contact: Donn Walker
dwalke18@slu.edu
314-977-8015
Saint Louis University
Source:Eurekalert

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