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Scientists have found a universal way to protect against all viruses at once

Scientists have discovered a new potential target for antiviral drugs. The discovery may lead to the creation of a universal method of treatment immediately for many infectious diseases. The results of the study are published in the journal Cell Reports, writes "RIA News".

Фото: Depositphotos

As the outbreak of coronavirus in China shows, viruses are a constant threat to humanity. Vaccines are regularly developed and introduced against some of them, but this process takes a lot of time, helps not everyone, and does not protect against new viruses.

Scientists from the Massachusetts General Hospital (USA), in collaboration with colleagues from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, discovered the Achilles heel of most viruses - the AGO4 protein.

AGO4 is one of the proteins of the Argonaute family. Until now, his role has not been fully understood. Now, researchers have found that this protein has a unique antiviral effect in somatic mammalian cells.

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The authors of the study studied the antiviral effects of several Argonaute proteins in mice and found that only cells with AGO4 deficiency were hypersensitive to various viral infections, including influenza. In other words, low levels of AGO4 increased the likelihood of infection of mammalian cells. From here, the researchers concluded that increasing the level of this protein can help strengthen the immune system and defend against many viruses.

“The goal is to understand how our immune system works to create treatments that work against a range of viruses, not just vaccines against a specific one,” study leader Keith Jeffrey said in a hospital press release.

Mammals, like many other animals and plants, have four Argonaute proteins (1-4), which act by suppressing genes. Argonaute is involved in the formation and regulation of RNA and miRNA activity, that is, it acts as an effector protein of RNA, and RNA interference is the most important strategy for antiviral protection of cells.

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Scientists plan to continue research.

“The next step is to determine how broad the spectrum of action of this protein is for any type of virus,” says Jeffrey. "And then we need to figure out how to increase AGO4 activity to increase protection against viral infections."

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