In brief

June 2016   Comments

Vaccine for herpes and the common cold on the horizon?

An international team, including researchers from McMaster, Ottawa and McGill universities, has discovered a critical step in the immune system’s recognition of DNA viruses. It’s a key finding that could lead to vaccinations for various viral infections, including herpes and the common cold, the investigators say. This is an exciting prospect for the more than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 who are infected with the herpes simplex virus type 1 and the 140 million people age 15-49 who are infected with genital herpes.

It was already known that the interferon regulatory factor-3 gene contributes to a first line of defence against viral infection by triggering antiviral activity. In this study, published in Nature Immunology, the researchers report how two proteins regulate this gene. The investigators say their work represents a breakthrough in fundamental understanding of how the immune system detects a viral infection. This discovery sheds light on what happens when people are infected by a virus, receive a vaccination, fight cancer or experience autoimmunity.

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