Universal target to treat deadly infections identified

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Washington, Dec 30 (IANS) A novel protein could be a universal therapeutic target for treating human diseases like brain cancer, Ebola, Influenza, Hepatitis and superbug bacteria, researchers report.

By using a drug combination to target the key protein GRP78 and related proteins, researchers prevented the replication of a variety of major viruses in infected cells, made antibiotic-resistant bacteria vulnerable to common antibiotics and found evidence that brain cancer stem cells were killed.

Data were obtained in multiple brain cancer stem cell types, and using influenza, mumps, measles, rubella, adenovirus, coxsakie virus, chikungunya, Ebola, Hepatitis, E. coli, MRSA, MRSE and N gonorrhoeae, among others.

“We have got a concept that by attacking GRP78 and related proteins, we hurt cancer cells, we inhibit the ability of viruses to infect and to reproduce and we are able to kill superbug antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said study’s lead investigator Paul Dent, professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Virginia Commonwealth University.

GRP78 is part of a family of proteins called chaperones.

The job of a chaperone is to help shape chains of amino acids into proteins and then to keep those proteins active in the correct 3D shape.

The chaperone proteins are very important in cancer cells or virus infected cells because these cells make extra protein compared to normal/uninfected cells.

“The findings open an avenue of being able to treat viral infections, infections that certainly most people would say we will never be able to treat. It proves that GRP78 is a ‘drugable’ target to stop viruses from reproducing and spreading,” said Dent.

The study was published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

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