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Sep 18, 2020

Removal of a gene could render lethal poxviruses harmless

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

The removal of one gene renders poxviruses—a lethal family of viral infections that are known to spread from animals to humans—harmless, a new study in the journal Science Advances reports.

During this ground-breaking study, scientists from the Spanish National Research Council and the University of Surrey investigated the immune response of cells to poxviruses. Poxviruses, such as cowpox and monkeypox, can spread to humans from infected animals, causing , fever, swollen lymph nodes and even death.

Viruses contain which helps them outsmart host cells, enabling replication and the spread of the . Cells in the body are comprised of molecules that sense the presence of viruses, sometimes via the recognition of their genetic material, and alert the immune system of an upcoming infection. Poxviruses, unlike other viruses, are highly unusual in that they have large DNA genomes that are replicated exclusively in the cell cytosol, an area of the cell full of sensors. How poxviruses manage to stay undetectable has remained unknown.

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