Researchers find what makes a virus infectious

CDC identifies2 deadly superbugs.The report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta focuses on five antibiotic-resistant infections, or "superbugs.".The report states that overall, antibiotic resistant superbugs have killed more than twice the number of people than previously speculated. .In 2017, one such infection, C. difficile, caused almost 250,000 hospitalizations and resulted in almost 13,000 deaths."We also need new vaccines, new diagnostics and other new tools to help doctors better treat their patients or better prevent infections in the first place."- Michael Craig, CDC Advisor, via CBS News.The report does state that since 2013, deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections have fallen by 18 percent.It's likely that the over-prescribing of antibiotics has led to the new superbugs.The CDC states that antibiotics are not recommended to fight virusessuch as the flu and the common cold

Discovery could lead to drugs that stop spread of colds, polio, other diseases

Wouldn’t it be great if you couldn’t give someone else your cold? That might be possible sooner than thought, thanks to researchers at the Universities of Leeds and York.

According to their recent study, they have “for the first time identified the way viruses like the poliovirus and the common cold virus ‘package up’ their genetic code, allowing them to infect cells. The findings open up the possibility that drugs or anti-viral agents can be developed that would stop such infections.”

ExploreCDC: COVID-19 complication seen in kids is now found in adults

Once a cell is infected, the scientists wrote, a virus needs to spread its genetic material to other cells. This process involves the creation of virions — newly formed infectious copies of the virus. “Each virion is a protein shell containing a complete copy of the virus’ genetic code. The virions can then infect other cells and cause disease.”

What had been a mystery was a detailed understanding of how the virus assembles those virions.

“This study is extremely important because of the way it shifts our thinking about how we can control some viral diseases. If we can disrupt the mechanism of virion formation, then there is the potential to stop an infection in its tracks,” said professor Peter Stockley, former director of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology at Leeds, who supervised the research with professor Reidun Twarock from York.

“Our analysis suggests that the molecular features that control the process of virion formation are genetically conserved, meaning they do not mutate easily — reducing the risk that the virus could change and make any new drugs ineffective,” Stockley said.

ExploreDrug-resistant hospital bacteria can remain even after deep cleaning

Their study, published January 8 in the journal Plos Pathogens, focused Enterovirus-E, which is the universally adopted surrogate for the poliovirus. It is a harmless bovine virus that is non-infectious in people. The poliovirus causes polio and is the target of a virus eradication initiative by the World Health Organization.

The enterovirus group also includes the human rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

The study details the role of RNA packaging signals, which are short regions of the RNA molecule that — along with proteins from the virus’ casing — ensure formation of an infectious virion.

Using molecular and mathematical biology, the researchers identified possible sites on the RNA molecule that could act as packaging signals. Using advanced electron microscopes, they could see this process — the first time that has been possible with any virus of this type.

“Understanding in detail how this process works, and the fact that it appears conserved in an entire family of viral pathogens, will enable the pharmaceutical industry to develop anti-viral agents that can block these key interactions and prevent disease,” Twarock said.

ExploreWhy you might need a vitamin D supplement right now

In Other News