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Scientists find key mechanism of childhood respiratory disease
Date:3/7/2011

GALVESTON, Texas Researchers have identified a critical part of the process by which one of the world's most common and dangerous early childhood infections, respiratory syncytial virus, causes disease.

The discovery could lead to badly needed new therapies for RSV, which in 2005 was estimated to have caused at least 3.4 million hospitalizations and 199,000 deaths among children under five worldwide.

By analyzing samples taken from infected infants and data from laboratory-mouse experiments, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston scientists determined that RSV interferes with airway cells' ability to produce enzymes that keep highly damaging molecules known as reactive oxygen species under control. The virus does this by preventing the activation of a single protein needed for the expression of a variety of detoxifying enzymes. Reactive oxygen species then accumulate, causing cell-killing oxidative stress and inflammation in both infected and uninfected airway cells a major factor in the damage done by RSV infection.

"The role of oxidative stress has been studied in everything from aging to asthma, but this is really the first study to implicate it in lung inflammation associated with viral infections," said Dr. Antonella Casola, an associate professor at UTMB Health and lead author of a paper on the research, published online March 4 in the "Articles in Press" section of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (http://ajrccm.atsjournals.org/articlesinpress.dtl). "We've been working on this project for a while starting in cells, then moving to animal models and finally getting results in patients so we're very excited about this paper."

The UTMB Health researchers followed up earlier studies in human cell cultures with experiments that showed a substantial reduction in the expression and activation of antioxidant enzy
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Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

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