The University of North Carolina's Ping Liu recently presented research on how the dengue virus infects cells, which could assist in development of vaccines and drug treatment.
Liu researched dengue fever with cell biologist Ken Jacobson, biophysical chemist Nancy Thompson and dengue fever expert Aravinda de Silva. Liu and her colleagues presented their findings at the 58th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting in San Francisco
The researchers used high-resolution microscopes to see how the dengue virus attached to the dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-grabbing nonintegrin, which is a specific cellular protein.
"DC-SIGN has a unique carbohydrate recognition domain on its extracellular portion, which binds to all sorts of carbohydrates on pathogens," Liu said. "An effective medication or vaccine should stop the process of dengue virus entry into cells."
The researchers have been able to identify neutralization antibodies that block the dengue infection.
"We are looking into the details of how those neutralization antibodies act and the role of DC-SIGN in the neutralization process," Liu said.
Liu said that understanding how the antibodies interact with DC-SIGN may be able to advance the development of dengue vaccines.