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Interferons effective against smallpox

BALTIMORE March 11, 2003 Proteins produced by the immune system, known as interferons, may be an effective treatment for smallpox, say researchers today at the American Society for Microbiologys Biodefense Research Meeting.

Certain cytokines, particularly interferons, are well known for their antiviral effects in various virus infections, says Ge Liu of Advanced Biosystems, Inc. in Manassas, Virginia, a lead researcher in the study, in collaboration with scientists from the Southern Research Institute in Frederick, Maryland, and George Mason University.

The researchers tested the ability of a number of interferons and interleukins, administered intranasally, to protect mice from a lethal infection with vaccinia virus, a close relative to the smallpox virus that is often used in mice to test potential smallpox treatments. Mice treated with interferons alpha and gamma had survival rates over 95 percent, compared to control groups in which no mice survived.

Intranasal administration of interferon alpha and interferon gamma provides nearly full protection against respiratory vaccinia virus infection in mice, says Liu. Therefore, our results have implications in the utilization of interferon as a prophylactic tool in a scenario of aerosol orthopoxvirus infection.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists, teachers, physicians, and health professionals. Its mission is to promote research and training in the microbiological sciences and to assist communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public to improve health, economic well being, and the environment.


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Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
11-Mar-2003


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