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Thread: Relationships between viruses

  1. #1 Relationships between viruses 
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    Apart from shape is there any real similarity between viruses. The reason I'm asking is that if there was a common similarity wouldn't it be possible to create a simple cure that will affect them all. Also the HIV virus only targets one cell so even if we couldn't fix the damage done couldn't we (in a way) steralise the person and prevent them from infecting other people as the virus wouldn't be spreading through the body and we could target certain areas that we know the virus will be such as the location of the Tcell (i think its that one) and the sex cells.


    just wondering
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  3. #2  
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    There are similarities between viruses, but they are similarities shared by the host as well. These are such things as reproductive and expression pathways.

    What is needed is a feature shared by viruses, and not shared by the host. In bacteria, this is usually a feature like cell wall structure.

    I suppose if one could disrupt the act of viruses coopting host machinery, that might be a useful target for therapy.


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  4. #3 Re: Relationships between viruses 
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zendra
    Apart from shape is there any real similarity between viruses.
    They all share broad characteristics, but it's likely they don't all share a common virus ancestor since viruses probably derived from self replicating life rather than the other way around. Which probably means there's more than one unrelated origin.

    Quote Originally Posted by zendra
    The reason I'm asking is that if there was a common similarity wouldn't it be possible to create a simple cure that will affect them all. Also the HIV virus only targets one cell so even if we couldn't fix the damage done couldn't we (in a way) steralise the person and prevent them from infecting other people as the virus wouldn't be spreading through the body and we could target certain areas that we know the virus will be such as the location of the Tcell (i think its that one) and the sex cells.
    Sterilising the patient would reduce the sexual transmission rate, but they'd need to consent to that and the process would not remove all chance of infection nor would it save the patient.

    Your body already blockades or destroys virally infected cells. Sometimes the cells recognise common patterns on viruses (such as double stranded RNA which we animals do not make) and react by shutting down their protein synthesis activities. They may also place bits of whatever they're currently making (including virus bits as they work by hijacking protein and nucleic acid synthesis) onto special receptors on their surfaces, which tells other cells that they're infected. That will tend to mean that killer cells of various kinds will destroy the infected cell. So yes, it's a sound strategy in principle but one that is already employed and which is for some infections, sadly imperfect. Viruses evolve faster than us and so have adapted to our adaptations.

    We already do target known cell types in viral therapies, a major area of research in HIV is blocking of entry sites on T cells and other cells that HIV likes. The problem is getting good blocking without also impairing the function of the T cells, which just happen to be the same cells which direct adaptive antiviral responses.
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