Team of researchers from Mass General Hospital identify new ‘universal’ target for antiviral treatment

Team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have developed a potential antivirus drug which could help in protecting against several infectious diseases. Based on the new study, Argonaute 4 (AG04) is an “Achilles heel” for viruses.

AGO4 belongs to the family of AGO proteins, and its significance was not until recently discovered. The team of authors- Kate L. Jeffrey, PhD, and her collaborators however discovered that AGO4 plays a crucial role on protecting cells against viral infections.

Experts suggest the protein is exceptionally antiviral in mammalian immune cells. For the study the team studied the anti-viral effects of several Argonaute proteins. This further helped them to find that only cells that were deficient in AGO4 were “hyper-susceptible” to viral infection. In other words, low levels of AGO4 make mammalian cells more likely to become infected.

As a result boosting levels of AGO4 will help to strengthen the immune system in order to protect against multiple viruses. “The goal is to understand how our immune system works so we can create treatments that work against a range of viruses, rather than just vaccines against a particular one,” commented Jeffrey.

According to sources, the team is working on determining how broad spectrum this is to any virus type. This will help them to discover how to boost AGO4 to ramp up protection against viral infections.