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Respiratory virus builds 'doorbell' to trick its way into cells

New research from University of Alberta microbiologists has shed new light on how the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) -- one of the most common viral pathogens -- breaks into our cells to cause infection. They discovered that RSV tricks cells into letting it in by essentially ringing a doorbell that calls its receptor to the virus waiting at the door.

"RSV kills between 150,000 and 200,000 people -- mainly children and infants -- every year worldwide," said Marchant, "Currently, there is no vaccine or therapeutics to treat RSV, and nothing on the horizon. This discovery identifies one of the first steps in RSV infection, and the hope is if we can block the interaction of the virus with the receptor, we may be able to stop the infection from happening."

RSV most often affects infants and young children, infecting the lungs and airways. In fact, some experts estimate that almost all children have been infected with RSV by the time they reach the age of three. It's the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the world and the second leading cause of infant mortality next to malaria.

RSV is unique because it lies on top of the surface of a cell for hours before gaining access and infecting it, unlike other viruses such as influenza, which can break into a cell within minutes by fusing with it.



The threat of chronic lung disease to human health has reached an unprecedented level, resulting in a high mortality rate. In particular, symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness make the patient miserable.

Methotrexate use is known to be associated with acute pneumonitis, an acute hypersensitivity reaction. Historically there have been concerns that methotrexate may be a cause for chronic pulmonary fibrosis. The effect of long-term methotrexate use on the incidence of chronic interstitial lung disease (ILD) remains unclear.

Ulie Dawson, Deepti Kapur and Imna Rahiman made a study on chronic interstitial lung disease a complication which was published at the journal of Reports in Clinical Studies and Medicine.

129 patients commenced on methotrexate in their unit between 2004 - 2007 were evaluated retrospectively from their Hospital trust records after 10 years of follow-up. Rheumatoid arthritis was the predominant reason for them to take methotrexate (106/129). 64/129 (50%) patients completed 10 years of methotrexate treatment.

Four male patients, diagnosed of rheumatoid arthritis, developed usual interstitial pneumonia pattern ILD. This result made an incidence of 3.8% (4/106) among patients with rheumatoid arthritis. No significant association of symptomatic ILD to the duration or dose of methotrexate therapy was found. This incidence wascomparable to previous studies (4-7%). This adds to previous publications from shorter-term studies showing a lack of evidence that MTX could be inducing chronic ILD.


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