Researchers find Dengue virus mutates as it spreads

Dengue virus mutates as it spreads
Dengue virus mutates as it spreads | Courtesy of wikipedia.org
Researchers recently discovered the mechanisms that enable Dengue virus to adapt and spread throughout the world, optimizing the virus and increasing the likelihood of outbreaks.

Dengue virus most commonly spreads in the world’s warm areas. The viral strains’ diversity has caused the strains to develop to an extent that raises concerns for potential epidemics. There have been multiple dengue outbreaks because of the new strains overcoming the native strains that local residents have immunity against.

The scientists evaluated various dengue virus-2 clades that spread through Puerto Rico in 1994. This strain mutated between 1986 and 1995 into a new, more contagious strain. The researchers determined that the new virus’s proteins and RNA interact with the host in such a way that the virus can evade the body’s immune response and easily invade.

"This study highlights the critical and oft forgotten role played by non-coding RNAs in the battle between viruses and their human hosts," Mariano Garcia-Blanco, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, said. "It emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary research: a fabulous marriage of basic RNA biology and clinically informed epidemiology uncovered an unexpected route of virus evolution that explained (and perhaps could predict) epidemic potential."

Further details are available in Science online.

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