02 Dec 2010   |   News

MRC: New technology for developing anti-viral drugs


MRC Technology Ltd, the technology transfer arm of the UK Medical Research Council, is offering licenses based on new research carried out at by Leo James at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, showing that antibodies can fight viruses from within cells, a finding that has transformed previous understanding of how the body resists infection by viruses.

The MRC says the finding gives scientists a different set of rules that pave the way to the next generation of antiviral drugs. Previously it was believed that antibodies could only reduce infection by attacking viruses outside cells and also by blocking their entry into cells. Now James has shown that antibodies remain attached when viruses enter healthy cells. Once inside, the antibodies trigger a response, led by a protein called TRIM21, which pulls the virus into a disposal system used by the cell to get rid of unwanted material. This process happens quickly, usually before most viruses have chance to harm the cell.

The MRC scientists have further shown that increasing the amount of TRIM21 protein in cells makes this process even more effective, suggesting new ways of making better antiviral drugs.

James’ team is working with MRC Technology to translate this basic research through to new antiviral drugs.

For more information, visit the project’s page on the MRC Technology website.

References

Antibodies mediate intracellular immunity through tripartite motif-containing 21 (TRIM21)
Mallery, D.M. et al.
PNAS
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1014074107

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