One step closer to vaccine for common respiratory disease

One step closer to vaccine for common respiratory disease
The RS virus causes flu-like symptoms in healthy adults, but becomes life-threatening in young children and the elderly. The 3-D structure has been now solved by the Sarah Butcher Lab in the University of Helsinki. Credit: Sarah Butcher Lab, University of Helsinki

Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to respiratory syncytial virus. The three-dimensional structure of respiratory syncytial virus has been solved by an international team from Finland and Switzerland.

RSV is a common cause of respiratory infection, but there is no vaccine available. It causes flu-like symptoms in healthy adults, but becomes life-threatening in young children and the elderly. It is estimated to cause over 100 000 deaths yearly worldwide.

The teams of Research Director Sarah Butcher (Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki) and Professor Ari Helenius (ETH Zurich) have now solved the three-dimensional structure of RSV.

"The structural model helps us to understand how are formed. This information can be useful in the intelligent design of vaccines" said the researcher Lassi Liljeroos.

RSV is related to measles and mumps viruses. All three viruses parasitize human cells, stealing parts of the cell membrane to use as their own. In RSV the resulting virus membranes look likes tubes and spheres. We could show that the virus' controls this shape.

"In addition, we observed that the fusion protein on the surface is in two different forms. The fusion protein is responsible for attaching the virus to human cells and invading them. This is an important finding because the fusion protein is the key molecule in developing to the virus. "

More information: Architecture of respiratory syncytial virus revealed by electron cryotomography, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1309070110

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Surprises of the measles virus structure with new 3d model

Oct 24, 2011

Professor Sarah Butcher's research group from Helsinki University's Institute of Biotechnology report in the 24th October online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences a three-dimensional model ...

Recommended for you

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Apr 18, 2014

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

Apr 18, 2014

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Apr 18, 2014

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

Apr 18, 2014

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments