Genetic defect may provide avenue to combat certain viral infections

The National Institutes of Health released study results on Wednesday that showed a rare genetic disease may protect patients from severe or recurring viral infections such as HIV and influenza.

Researchers found that patients with the congenital disorder glycosylation type llb produce HIV and influenza viruses at a much slower rate than healthy cells.

The genetic disorder is extremely rare, with only three known cases. The disease disrupts glycosylation, which is the process of sugars attaching to proteins. The proteins, called gamma globulins, include infection-fighting antibodies and become unstable and remain at low levels in the blood of a patient with CDG-llb.

Some viruses, such as HIV and influenza, rely on glycosylation to create a protective barrier around itself. Patients with CDG-llb inhibit the virus' ability to reproduce or create a protective shield.

Viruses such as poliovirus, vaccinia virus and adenovirus do not rely on glycosylation and do not create protective shields. Researchers said these viruses were not impacted by CDG-llb.

Researchers suggested that adjusting host glycosylation may present an avenue to control some viral infections.

The study was led by NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Primary Immune Deficiency Clinic Director Sergio Rosenzweig and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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National Institutes of Health

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