Dealing with viruses is not an easy thing, as some infectious disease outbreaks in history have shown. But scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified in a new study a target for antiviral drugs that could lead to more effective treatment of many contagious diseases.
The scientists revealed that Argonaute 4 (AGO4), a protein, could be targeted to deal with a wide range of infectious diseases. According to them, this substance seems to play a critical role in shielding cells from viral infections.
This discovery could potentially lead to a universal treatment for the different diseases caused by viruses.
The research was published in the journal Cell Reports this month.
There are four Argonaute proteins present in mammals, numbered 1 to 4. This class of compounds is highly valued in many living things, including plants.
The proteins silence genes. They play a role in the RNA interference (RNAi) process and interact with microRNA effectors.
Invertebrates and plants rely heavily on RNAi for protection against viruses.
Before now, there was limited knowledge of what each Argonaute protein does. The researchers in this study said AGO4 appears to exhibit antiviral effects specifically in the immune cells of mammals.