Feeds

‘Pitstops’ can inhibit viruses

Boffins propose new idea for blocking HIV, cancer

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A compound dubbed the “pitstop” has been proposed as offering a new way to defend the body against invaders such as viruses and cancers.

The joint Australian-German project is looking at cell signalling behaviours as offering the chance to block diseases that work by invading human cells.

Cell membranes have to keep nasties out, but have to be able to let nutrients in – and it is the nutrient pathway that provides the gap in defences exploited by attackers. The opening for nutrients is provided by signalling molecules, and it’s the behaviour of those signaling molecules that has attracted the attention of Professor Phil Robinson of the Children’s Medical Research Institute in Sydney, German scientists Volker Haucke of Berlin’s Freie Universität, Adam McCluskey of the University of Newcastle, and their collaborators.

A process called clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) regulates operations such as nutrient absorption in cells. To invade cells, viruses and other pathogens hijack the clathrin that cells use to take in nutrients, invade the cell, and then use the cells' mechanisms to replicate their own genetic material throughout the body.

The researchers say they have developed “pitstop” compounds that interfere with the absorption of pathogens such as HIV, and say that if treatments can be developed based on these “pitsops”, they could block a wide range of invaders.

“What we’ve found is a way to tackle infectious diseases and viral infections; not all of them but probably a large chunk of them,” Professor Robinson told AAP.

Defending clathrin against hijacking, Robinson says, offers a way to prevent pathogens invading the cells, rather than fighting infection after it takes place. He says the compounds that the researchers have used are simple, offering “breathtaking” scope for improvement.

The next step for the researchers will be to find out whether or not their “pitstop” compounds are safe for humans.

The abstract of their research, published in the journal Cell, is here. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.