A group of researchers at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine have discovered a blueprint for combating human diseases using DNA of a near-indestructible virus. The virus in question is tagged as near-indestructible due to its ability to survive even in nearly boiling acid.
Edward H. Egelman of the university’s Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics said the thing that is most unusual and interesting about the findings of the new study is that the findings elaborate how DNA and proteins can combine to form a structure which remains stable even when exposed to the most adverse conditions imaginable. He added that he and his colleagues have succeeded in discovering the “basic mechanism of resistance” to adverse conditions such as ultraviolet radiation, desiccation, heat, etc.
The research team under Egelman managed to make such an incredible discovery primarily because of the Titan Krios electron microscope, a property of the University of Virginia.
According to Egelman, the findings of this study can allow them to move forward and achieve goals like developing ways of packaging DNA for gene therapy.
It’s extremely important to have effective packaging for DNA delivery; this is because our body has multiple ways of degrading and removing foreign DNA. Due to this ability, humans can successfully combat viruses. However, this same protective ability of human body makes it difficult for doctors to use foreign genes for fighting disease.
An impenetrable DNA packaging will help medical practitioners to overcome this issue associated with gene therapy. The near-indestructible virus discussed above provides scientists with a pretty promising template for a perfect DNA package.
The virus, which is referred to as SIRV2, infects a microorganism called Sulfolobus islandicus. Egelman informed that Sulfolobus islandicus lives in extremely unusual conditions; to be more precise, they live in acidic hot springs that are often as hot as 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the study, scientists spotted significant similarities between the above mentioned near-indestructible virus and spores formed by bacteria for surviving in inhospitable environments.
When speaking about these similarities, Egelman said that these spores often cause severe health disorders that are extremely difficult to treat; examples include anthrax. He further informed that in this new study, he and his team have shown that the SIRV2 virus operates in the same manner as certain proteins found in the bacterial spores.