UCLA researchers are studying the structure of a virus that is known to cause cancer.
In a study published last week, researchers analyzed the molecular components of herpes virus’ outer protein shell. The virus is associated with a type of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma, which affects cells in lymph and blood vessels and creates lesions. The researchers demonstrated that a certain inhibitor targeting the virus’ outer protein shell can break it down, a process that could be used to develop antiviral medications in the future.
Researchers used cryo-electron microscopy to view the virus in high resolution and create a 3-D atomic model showing the 3,000 proteins that make up the virus. Using this model, researchers were able target certain proteins in the virus that can degrade its structure.
There are currently no vaccines or drug treatments for Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, a strain of the herpes virus that causes Kaposi’s sarcoma, according to a press release.
Researchers also hope to apply the model to the Epstein-Barr virus, which has an extremely similar structure to KSHV and causes mononucleosis, or mono, a common disease that causes fatigue, fever and swollen lymph nodes.