The coronaviral outbreak is sending shockwaves all around the globe since its outbreak from December. Till now, the COVID-19 (previously nCoV) has infected around 60,000 people in China alone with more than 1,300 deaths (source: Aljazeera). With this chaotic situation, scientists are working tirelessly to find working vaccines against the infectious agent. But it is seen that not all get conferred immunity with this vaccination. Therefore, we need to resort to other methods to tackle the challenging situation.
One such method is targetting the infectious agent through antiviral therapy. This has led researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to formulate a new antiviral therapy that could possibly treat all viral infections. This therapy is based on the levels of a particular protein called protein Argonaute 4 (AGO4). It is seen that the presence of AGO4 in the immune system makes cells resist viral invasion.
On the other hand, low levels of AGO4 in the cells make the cells susceptible to invasion. Therefore, scientists are currently focusing on boosting the levels of AGO4 in the body which can help our bodies in fighting a range of viruses. This will help us tackle viral infections very easily as vaccination will confer immunity only against one agent.
Mammals have four types of Argonaute proteins which are remarkably conserved in the RNA-induced silencing complex found in plants and animals. This helps them fight against viral infections. These are effector proteins based on the RNAi – which is a major antiviral defense method on plants and invertebrates. So, scientists are trying to work out a similar strategy with mammals as well.
However, the spectrum of protein in which it will act is still a question mark. With outbreaks like coronaviral pneumonia causing numerous deaths, it is high time we need new therapies and strategies to tackle new challenges. Deep, in-depth research and a working clinical trial seems like this might be a promising new strategy to tackle the challenge.
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