Elisabeth Manville
May 12, 2012

Molecular “switch” that triggers anti-viral response identified

Scientists have discovered a molecular “switch” that directly activates the production of a potent class of virus killers. Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) triggers virus killers called interferons, which can fight harmful diseases such as the dengue and influenza viruses. There are currently no approved vaccines or cures for dengue, and while there are anti-viral drugs to treat influenza, it is difficult to treat with a universal vaccine due to mutations. This new discovery could lead to anti-viral drugs that target the BTK switch to fight infectious diseases. “This study... is a prime example of how better understanding in basic biological systems brings us a step closer to understanding the mechanism of human diseases, and enables us to find more effective treatment strategies to combat deadly viral diseases, which we have yet to find cures for,” Kong-Peng Lam, head of the group that conducted the research, said.