The technique that creates the protein that fights viruses may also be the first step to developing other drugs that take hold of the "sugar code" used by our cells to talk amongst themselves. Viruses and other invaders tend to hijack that code and use it for their own purposes.
What happens is a protein called banana lectin, or BanLec, can "read" sugars on the exteriors of viruses and cells and block them. It was already known that the same thing could prevent the virus that causes AIDS from entering cells, but there were side effects that kept it from becoming useable.
A team of scientists have put together a new version of BanLec which is effective against the
viruses behind AIDS, influenza and hepatitis C in tests in blood samples and tissue. In mice,it also worked at preventing infection by the flu virus.
However it is years away from being able to be used by humans.
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