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April 23, 2009

New Understanding of Dengue Virus Points Way to Possible Therapies for Dengue Fever

A team of researchers from Duke University, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and other institutions has identified cellular components in mosquitoes and in humans that dengue virus uses to multiply inside these hosts after infecting them. Their findings could lead to the development of anti-dengue drugs that would inhibit one or more of these host factors, thus curtailing infection and the development of disease.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the research, which was led by Mariano Garcia-Blanco, MD, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center. The research appears in the current issue of the journal Nature.

The scientists used a technique called RNA interference in live mosquitoes to test whether inactivation of selected dengue virus host factors impaired the ability of dengue virus to infect the gut tissue of the insects.

“Because the dengue virus has only ten genes we had suspected that it may use similar ways to replicate inside the two hosts. We employed the same RNA interference technique that we use in our malaria research program to uncover the importance of these host factors for virus propagation in mosquitoes,” said George Dimopoulos, PhD, a co-author of the study and associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Malaria Research Institute.

Read the news releases from NIH and Duke University.

Watch video interview here.