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Key Mechanism Behind Herpes Revealed

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Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have for the first time managed to measure the internal pressure that enables the herpes virus to infect cells in the human body. The discovery paves the way for the development of new medicines to combat viral infections. The results indicate good chances to stop herpes infections in the future.

A virus comprises a thin shell of protein, within which are its genes. A long-standing theory has been that a virus has high internal pressure because it is so tightly packed with genetic material. The pressure means that they can infect a cell by ejecting the genes at high force and speed. The cell is then duped into becoming a small ‘virus factory’ that produces new viruses, multiplying the number. However, no one has previously succeeded in measuring the internal pressure of a virus that can infect humans.

Biochemist Alex Evilevitch from Lund University and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA, has measured the pressure inside the herpes virus HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus 1) together with a research team in the US. The study has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, JACS.

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