Asian Scientist (Jul. 16, 2013) – Researchers in China have identified artificial microRNAs that target regions of the dengue genome essential for viral replication. The discovery suggests that microRNAs may be a potential therapeutic strategy against dengue viruses.
Mosquito-borne dengue viruses cause an estimated 50 million cases of human dengue fever a year and are a significant public health threat worldwide.
In their study, published in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, the researchers identified multiple regions in the dengue virus genome that have maintained the same nucleic sequence over long periods of evolution. These highly conserved regions are ideal targets for antiviral drug development as they are unlikely to mutate and allow the virus to develop drug resistance.
They then constructed artificial short strands of nucleic acids called microRNAs that specifically target these conserved sites in the dengue virus genome.
By systematically testing these artificial microRNAs for the ability to inhibit dengue virus replication, they identified the combinations of artificial microRNAs that were most effective at stopping the virus from replicating in human cells.
The article can be found at: Xie et al. (2013) Inhibition Of Dengue Virus 2 Replication By Artificial MicroRNAs Targeting The Conserved Regions.
Source: Nucleic Acid Therapeutics; Photo: snre/Flickr.
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