Viral product provokes immune response against RSV

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Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania recently found that a subset of viral products once thought to serve no biological purpose in humans could provoke a strong immune defense against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Nearly all people are exposed to RSV before they turn 2 years old. The majority of these people appear to have the common cold symptoms of coughing, a runny nose, sneezing and a fever. Some very young infants as well as some older adults can have serious reactions to RSV, even needing hospitalization. 

While there is no cure for RSV, the new research could change this, as immunostimulatory defective viral genomes (DVGs) may be the key to provoking the immune system to respond against the virus.

"What we see is that DVGs are key in signaling the immune response to turn on," Carolina López, senior author on the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Pathobiology in Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine, said. "This is the first study that shows that DVGs can critically impact the outcome of an RSV infection and that they are present in infected humans."

Further details are available in the PLOS Pathogens journal.

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University of Pennsylvania

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