Researchers May Have Uncovered Achilles Heel of Viruses; Many Inhibit Host STING Protein to Thwart Immune Response; Efforts to Block This Inhibition & Activate STING May Aid Efforts to Fight Variety of Viral Infections, Including Herpes & Coronaviruses

Viruses have an exceptional ability to circumvent the body's immune system and cause diseases. The majority of people recover from a viral infection such as influenza, although the current COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how dangerous viruses can be when there is no effective vaccine or treatment. Professor and virologist Søren Riis Paludan, PhD, from the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University, Denmark, has been leading a research partnership amongst Aarhus University, the University of Oxford, and the University of Gothenburg, which has brought us one step closer to understanding the tactics used by viruses when they attack the immune system. Dr. Paludan heads a laboratory that carries out research into the immune system's ability to fight diseases caused by the herpes virus, influenza viruses, and, most recently, SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus. In the new study, which has just been published online on May 8, 2020 in the scientific journal Journal of Experimental Medicine, the researchers have investigated how the herpes simplex virus circumvents the immune system in order to cause infections of the brain. This is a rare infection, but one which has a high mortality rate among those who are affected. The open-access JEM article is titled “HSV1 VP1-2 Deubiquitinates STING to Block Type I Interferon Expression and Promote Brain Infection.” "In the study, we found that the herpes simplex virus is capable of inhibiting a protein in the cells, known as STING (image)(stimulator of interfereon genes) (, which is activated when there is a threat.
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