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New research points to treatment breakthrough for viruses

New research points to treatment breakthrough for viruses

 A Zika virus researcher at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center prepares samples.

Each year the flu virus sends 13,500 Australians to hospital and causes more than 3000 deaths among those aged over 50. The global burden is also staggering, with more than 5 million cases of infection annually with up to 10 per cent resulting in death.

Now, ARC-funded researchers—including 2012 ARC Future Fellow Dr Stavros Selemidis from RMIT University, Professor Doug Brooks from University South Australia and Professor Christopher Porter from Monash University—have collaborated with other Australian and international scientists and clinicians to investigate how viruses cause disease in humans. Their findings, published in the prestigious scientific and medical journal Nature Communications, have the potential to unlock better treatment of viral diseases, including the flu and common cold.

The researchers discovered that a 1.5 billion-year-old cell biological process found in plants, fungi and mammals enhances viral disease in mice and highly likely also in humans. They identified a protein, Nox2 oxidase, that is activated by viruses, including influenza, rhinovirus (the common cold), dengue and HIV. Once activated, Nox2 oxidase suppresses the body’s key antiviral reaction and its ability to fight and clear the viral infection, which in turn results in a stronger or more virulent disease in mice.

The study also investigated a new prototype drug to treat these debilitating viral diseases, which was found to be very effective at suppressing disease caused by influenza infection.

Media issued by: RMIT University.

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