Another international team of researchers led by the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partnered with UPMC Cancer Center, has found a potential way to enhance our ability to sense and inhibit viral infections by boosting a protein (OASL) that naturally exists in our cells. This laboratory-based discovery, could lead to more effective treatments for viruses ranging from hepatitis C to the flu.
"Despite remarkable advances in vaccination and treatment, diseases caused by viral infections remain among the leading causes of death worldwide," said senior author Saumendra N. Sarkar, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at UPCI. "We need new defenses against viral infections, and our discovery is proving to be a promising avenue for further exploration."
Dr. Sarkar and his team made the discovery while investigating a protein which appears in increased quantities in people with liver cancer caused by the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C, influenza, the childhood respiratory illness RSV, and many other viruses are known as ribonucleic acid (RNA) viruses, which use RNA as their genetic material when they replicate. The OASL protein enhances the cells' ability to detect virus RNA, activating the immune system to sense the virus and inhibit replication.
In laboratory tests, boosting this protein in human cells effectively inhibits viral replication. Conversely, mice that do not have OASL were found to be much more susceptible to viral infections.
The finding is especially notable because it may offer an alternative to interferons, another kind of protein that is made and released by cells in response to viruses. Interferons are used in therapy against some viral infections, including hepatitis C, but are not effective for other RNA viruses, such as influenza. Interferon therapy also has major side effects, and not all patients respond well to treatment.
"The respiratory system is a much easier target to deliver this type of therapy, compared to an organ, such as the liver, so we'll be starting with infections like RSV," said Dr. Sarkar. "From there we could branch out to other RNA viruses and perhaps find effective ways to boost our inherent immunity against a broad range of viral infections."
All the proteins in your body are made from the proteins that you eat. These studies should make you realize the importance of what you eat. You eat inferior proteins, then your body will be limited in what proteins it can make. So make sure that you always eat high-quality proteins like lean red meats preferably grass fed or wild, (beef, lamb, bison, venison), organic chicken and turkeys and wild un-farmed fish. Using a high quality protein shake, like we do, will just help your odds of staying healthy.