Researchers Demonstrate Novel Strategy to Inactivate Encephalitis Virus

A collaborative team of scientists from the UniformedServicesUniversity of the Health Sciences (USU) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have developed a novel strategy to inactivate highly virulent Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) that can infect and kill both animals and humans.

In an article published in Biochem Biophys Res Commun, April 26, 2007, Dr. Radha Maheshwari, professor of pathology at USU, along with graduate student Anuj Sharma, reported the novel approach to inactivate VEEV. VEEV has been identified as an emerging infectious disease and has been developed as a bio-warfare agent and may be a potential biological terror agent.

The current study has important implications for the development of efficient VEEV vaccine. The results show that complete inactivation of VEEV can be achieved using a novel molecule that can penetrate into the virus envelope and target the virus envelope proteins that are vital for initiation of virus infection of the host cell. This inactivation of the virus is achieved while maintaining the integrity of the virus which is vital towards development of a vaccine against any virus. This study has significant implications as this novel strategy of inactivation may be used for a large number of enveloped viruses of military and civilian importance.

There is no specific therapy for the treatment of VEEV infection or togaviruses as such and there is currently no FDA approved vaccine for VEEV prophylaxis. The current experimental vaccine which is under investigational new drug status, has limited use due to non-responders and residual virulence.

Source: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU)