Study finds first pressure-driven infection mechanism in cold sore virus

A new study found the virus that causes cold sores exhibits the first ever detected pressurized mechanism, which shines new light on how to combat viral infections.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. In the study, Alex Evilevitch and his colleagues found the pressure inside a cold sore to be eight times greater than the pressure inside a car tire.

The study began with the hope of finding a way to combat the drug-resistance many viruses develop to drugs that target viral proteins. Many viral proteins can disguise themselves from drugs, making treatment ineffective. In search of viral vulnerabilities that do not involve viral proteins, Evilevitch and colleagues began studying the pressure inside the herpes simplex virus 1, responsible for cold sores.

Evilevitch and colleagues found that HSV-1 enters cells by sitting on the portals of the nucleus and injecting the DNA using high pressure formed by the tight packing of the capsid, the shell which contains the viral genome.

Evilevitch and colleagues concluded this is an effective technique in viral infection, preserved by evolution. The team found other viruses that exhibit the same high-pressure injection mechanism as well, making this discovery a viable objective for the development of future viral treatment drugs.

The team of scientists said drugs that interfere with the high-pressure mechanisms have the potential to overcome the drug resistance that occurs from quick mutations of viral genomes.