A genetic modification in the ‘coat’ of a brain infection-causing virus may allow it to escape antibodies, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. They say testing people for this and other viral mutations may help identify patients at risk for developing a fatal brain disease.
Dr. Aron Lukacher, professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the College of Medicine, and Susan Hafenstein, professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the College of Medicine and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State Eberly College of Science, co-led a research team that used high-resolution microscopy to study the capsid, or outer shell of mouse polyomavirus (MuPyV). This virus is a genetic model of JC polyomavirus (JCPyV), which is present and harmless in most people and can cause progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a brain disease, in people taking immunosuppressive therapies.
Genetic mutations in the capsid of JCPyV are common in PML patients and scientists have struggled to understand whether they allow the virus to infect brain cells or whether the resulting changes allow the virus to evade elimination by antiviral antibodies and then cause brain infection. Lukacher and Hafenstein studied the mouse equivalent of a common genetic mutation in JC polyomavirus to try and better understand how it may cause PML.
“Not much is known about how this particular genetic mutation in the JC polyomavirus capsid leads to PML,” Lukacher said. “It has been detected in the blood, cerebrospinal fluid and brain tissues of PML patients but not in their urine. This unmutated virus typically sits dormant in the kidneys of healthy people, which got us wondering how this particular mutation contributes to disease progression.”
The researchers introduced a genetic mutation in the MuPyV capsid similar to one found in JCPyV and conducted a series of experiments to compare outcomes between MuPyV and the altered virus. The virus mutates by swapping out one amino acid, the chemical ingredients used to build the capsid, for another. They found the virus was still able to cause central nervous system infection and hydrocephalus, or brain swelling.
Top Image Credit: Amanda Scott
The quantum sensing abilities of nanodiamonds can be used to improve the sensitivity of paper-based diagnostic tests, potentially allowing for earlier detection of diseases such as HIV, according to a study led by UCL researchers [...]
WEHI researchers are studying 'nanobodies' – tiny immune proteins made by alpacas—in a bid to understand whether they might be effective in blocking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Alpacas produce unique antibodies—called nanobodies—that can [...]
The University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, today announces interim trial data from its Phase III trials that show its candidate vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019, is effective at preventing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and offers a [...]
A genetic modification in the ‘coat’ of a brain infection-causing virus may allow it to escape antibodies, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. They say testing people for this and other viral mutations [...]
Current chemotherapy regimens slow cancer progression and save lives, but these powerful drugs affect both healthy and cancerous cells. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Nano Letters have designed DNA-based nanogels that only break down and [...]
The new technology behind Pfizer's and Moderna's coronavirus vaccines could be used to prevent everything from heart disease to cancer, experts say. The breakthrough vaccine 'platform' they use transforms the body into a virus-zapping vaccine [...]
Current state-of-the-art techniques have clear limitations when it comes to imaging the smallest nanoparticles, making it difficult for researchers to study viruses and other structures at the molecular level. Scientists from the University of Houston [...]
Virtual patients, vaccines, medicine-making biomachines and microneedles are examples of tech innovation that is meeting the moment to address the global health crisis. Health has been a strong focus for this year’s top 10 [...]
A Vancouver company is central to the news Monday morning that Pfizer is close to developing an effective vaccine against the coronavirus. Pfizer said Monday that an early peek at the data on its [...]
The first coronavirus vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, a preliminary analysis shows. The developers - Pfizer and BioNTech - described it as a "great day for science and humanity". [...]
Researchers led by the University at Buffalo (UB) have devised a new method that could enhance the effectiveness of vaccines against the novel coronavirus, the virus that is responsible for causing COVID-19. Jonathan F. Lovell, PhD, an [...]
On March 17 this year, a man was taken to hospital in Israel suffering from a dry cough and a loss of sense of smell. He developed a fever and felt tired but, after three [...]
One of the world’s leading Covid-19 experimental vaccines produces an immune response in older adults as well as the young, its developers say, raising hopes of protection for those most vulnerable to the coronavirus that [...]
Coronavirus tests performed in labs are the gold standard for accuracy and antigen tests are a fast and inexpensive alternative. But backers of a third type of test, developed by a Nobel Prize winner [...]
COVID-19 is a severe infectious disease that has claimed >150,000 lives and infected millions in the United States thus far, especially the elderly population. Emerging evidence has shown the virus to cause hemorrhagic and immunologic [...]