A new study identifying how flu viruses hijack human cells and spread infection has been published by New York researchers.
Scientists from Icahn School of Medicine in New York examined how Influenza A can hijack cells for its own purposes.
Influenza A is a family of viruses that includes the most deadly strains of flu worldwide.
It is believed the study could give insight into brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Influenza A is partly responsible for seasonal flus but also pandemics such as the Swine Flu that cross into humans.
While most viruses replicate in a cell’s cytoplasm, Influenza A reproduces itself inside cell nuclei.
Researchers found that once inside the nucleus, Influenza A hijacks the RNA exosome.
The RNA exosome is an essential protein complex that degrades RNA as a way to regulate gene expression.
It is in fact this access to the RNA exosome that is vital for the virus’ growth.
Lead researcher Dr Ivan Marazzi said: “The flu pathogen needs extra RNA to start the replication process.
“It steals these molecules from the hijacked exosome”.
The study, published in the journal Cell, identifies links between defects in the RNA exosome and people with rare mutations.
Researchers looked in great detail how viruses take control of the RNA exosome inside the cell’s nucleus.
Scientists hope that the findings can prove hugely beneficial in treating illness.
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