Viral Invasions And Your Blood Sugar

A crucial discovery about the relationship between viruses and cells could lead to treatment for conditions as disparate as cancer and the common cold.

The findings, by scientists from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, represent the first detailed study explaining exactly how viruses reprogram the metabolism of the cells they invade to promote continued viral growth.

The study results were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

A cell's metabolism is made up of processes that feed and maintain the cell, allow it to reproduce and eventually decide when it will die and be replaced. Previous research has already established that viruses have program cells.

But the latest research takes that knowledge a step further, according to postdoctoral scholar Minh Thai and assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology Heather Christofk.

In their research, Thai, Christofk and their colleagues discovered that the adenovirus — the type that causes the common cold — reprograms the cell it invades to be able to take on more glucose, an important nutrient for viruses. The virus also instructs the cell to increase its use of the. These alterations enable the virus to begin replicating inside the cell.

 "With this knowledge we hope to begin designing drugs that can inhibit the increased glucose uptake in these cells," Thai said. "This could lead to drugs that stop the growth of viral infections, the most common being like cold or flu, but also meningitis or some types of pneumonia. Then it might be possible to use the same type of drug to stop the growth of cancer cells."

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