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High pressure lets herpes virus ‘shoot’ DNA

Researchers have discovered that herpes viruses are like tiny powder kegs waiting to explode—findings that may lead to new therapies and prevention drugs.

For more than 20 years scientists suspected that herpes viruses were packaged so full of genetic material that they built up an internal pressure so strong it could shoot viral DNA into a host cell during infection. No one had been able to prove that theory until now.

Carnegie Mellon University biophysicist Alex Evilevitch together with his graduate student David Bauer and University of Pittsburgh collaborators Fred Homa and Jamie Huffman have measured, for the first time, the pressure inside human herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1).

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