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New Clue Into How Opportunistic Virus Evades Immune System

December 9, 2004

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of those viruses that is always there.  It enters the body, evades detection by the immune system, and, in healthy people, resides indefinitely without causing any symptoms.  Scientists have long wondered how the virus can be so good at thwarting our extremely efficient immune systems, realizing the answer might help them learn to better treat CMV-related opportunistic infections in those who are inmmunocompromised, including oral ulcers and lesions.  A few years ago, scientists discovered CMV contains three unique genes, collectively called immunoevasins, whose function is to selectively subvert normal immune responses to the virus.  Now, building on this key discovery, an NIDCR grantee and colleagues report in the October 18, 2004 of The Journal of Experimental Medicine that they have identified in mouse studies a previously unknown immune evasion protein that impairs the ability of the immune system’s so-called natural killer cells to attack CMV.

 

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014