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Scripps Research Institute Scientists Find Interferon, One of the Body’s Own Proteins, Induces Persistent Viral Infection

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Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have made a counterintuitive finding that may lead to new ways to clear persistent infection that is the hallmark of such diseases as AIDS, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

The study, reported in the April 12, 2013 issue of the journal Science, focused on the activity of the body’s type 1 interferon (IFN-I) proteins. Since its discovery over 50 years ago, IFN-I has been believed to be an especially powerful antiviral agent that marshals the immune system’s response against the body’s foreign invaders. But in the new study, the TSRI scientists document in mice that IFN-I initiates persistent infection and limits the generation of an effective antiviral immune response.

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