Southampton scientists have found a breakthrough in the bid to find a cure for a disease that has infected millions.
University of Southampton University scientists have discovered a breakthrough in the fight against the dengue, Hepatitis C, and Zika Virus which spread in a worldwide epidemic.
The team investigated Natural Killer (NK cells), a part of the body’s immune system and tested whether they recognised the Hepatitis C viruses, through a single receptor called KIR2DS2.
To achieve this, they analysed DNA from more than 300 patients exposed to the Hepatitis C virus, which showed that the KIR2DS2 receptor was associated with successfully clearing it.
They are now hoping to develop a vaccine that targets the cells in the three viruses.
The KIR2DS2 targeted a non-variable part of the virus pathogen called the NS3 helicase protein, a vital part of the virus that manages its functionality.
This then allowed the immune system to grab hold of the NS3 protein and allow the NK cells to kill them, preventing the virus from spreading.
They went on to demonstrate that this same mechanism could be done for many different viruses, for example, the Zika and dengue viruses, which contain the same helicase proteins.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Khakoo said: “The findings were very exciting and could change the way viruses are targeted by vaccines.
“The NS3 helicase protein could be the key to unlocking the defence of lethal viruses that affect so many people around the world.
“We believe that by targeting this NS3 helicase region, we could make a new type of vaccine based on natural killer cells, which can be used to help protect people from infections including Zika virus, dengue virus and yellow fever virus.”
Source: Daily Echo