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Novel Coronavirus Well-adapted to Humans, Susceptible to Immunotherapy

The new coronavirus that has emerged in the Middle East is well-adapted to infecting humans but could potentially be treated with immunotherapy, according to a study in mBio this week. The study indicates that the virus HCoV-EMC can penetrate the bronchial epithelium and evade the innate immune system as easily as a cold virus can, signs that HCoV-EMC is well-equipped for infecting human cells. The study also reveals that the virus is susceptible to treatment with interferons, immune proteins that have been used successfully to treat other viral diseases, opening a possible mode of treatment in the event of a large-scale outbreak.
"Surprisingly, this coronavirus grows very efficiently on human epithelial cells," says co-author Volker Thiel of The Institute of Immunobiology at Kantonal Hospital in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Thiel says these new data indicate that although HCoV-EMC may have jumped from animals to humans very recently, it is just as well adapted to infecting the human respiratory tract as other, more familiar human coronaviruses, including the SARS virus and the common cold virus, HCoV-229E.
Click on the "source" link to read more on mBio's blog, mBiosphere.

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