Feb 12, 2020

Mass General Hospital researchers identify new “universal” target for antiviral treatment

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Apparently scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital are making some progress on identifying what they are calling a “universal vaccine” or the “Achilles heel” for viruses…

BOSTON — As the coronavirus outbreak shows, viruses are a constant threat to humanity. Vaccines are regularly developed and deployed against specific viruses, but that process takes a lot of time, doesn’t help everyone who needs protection, and still leaves people exposed to new outbreaks and new viruses.

Now, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have uncovered a novel potential antiviral drug target that could lead to treatments protecting against a host of infectious diseases — creating a pan, or universal, treatment. Their work suggests that the protein Argonaute 4 (AGO4) is an “Achilles heel” for viruses.

AGO4 is one of a family of AGO proteins. Until now, there has been little evidence of whether they have individual roles. The researchers, led by Kate L. Jeffrey, PhD, and her collaborators found that AGO4 plays a key role protecting cells against viral infections.

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