Feeds

‘Pitstops’ can inhibit viruses

Boffins propose new idea for blocking HIV, cancer

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Hardened Hydrazine the source of Galileo satnav FAIL
Russian aerospace firm's kit fails on 46th mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.